Thursday, February 21, 2019 News · Press Releases

South Carolina House of Representatives Passes Energy Freedom Act

by Caitie Forde-Smith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2019

Contacts:

Conservation Voters of South Carolina – Tommy Gardiner, (803) 262-9142
Coastal Conservation League – Alan Hancock, (803) 361-1693

 South Carolina House of Representatives Passes Energy Freedom Act
Bill opens competition, removes net metering cap, opens solar options to lower-income residents

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Energy Freedom Act (House Bill 3659), known as the LCI Compromise (from the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee), was passed by the SC House today by a unanimous vote of 110-0. The bill will open energy markets for competition, remove the net metering cap for two years, and provide options for lower-income families and renters to take advantage of cost-saving solar energy.

The bill removes the current net-metering cap until June 1, 2021 and continues the current compensation rates for solar produced by residential panels. When Duke Energy hit their cap in mid-2018, we watched as hundreds of jobs were diverted to other parts of the state and even to other states, or were dissolved. If the Senate follows the House and passes the bill, thousands of well-paying jobs will be saved.

It also ensures better, more transparent processes to connect large scale solar projects to the public grid. With billions in potential investments in waiting, the LCI Compromise will help keep important economic projects moving forward in South Carolina.

The compromise bill took work from all sides, including conservation organizations, solar industry organizations and companies, as well as representatives from Duke Energy. The compromise bill now moves over to the Senate to consider.

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Quotes from participating organizations and individuals:

The Energy Freedom Act benefits our environment and economy, and moves South Carolina forward toward a cleaner energy future,” Laura Cantral, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League, said. “I applaud state lawmakers, utilities, and our conservation and solar partners for our collective effort to expand solar opportunity, protect jobs, and move us toward less reliance on coal and gas. Great things can happen when we work together on behalf of South Carolinians.”

“Getting this compromise together took work from all sides, and we appreciate the efforts from the House LCI Committee and House Leadership to bring all parties to the table and work quickly to advance this important issue,” John Tynan, Executive Director of Conservation Voters of SC, said. “We are pleased to see a compromise that addresses short-term issues – eliminating net metering and solar leasing caps and ensuring large-scale solar can connect to the grid – while establishing a long-term pathway for solar in South Carolina. This bill is important for thousands of good South Carolina jobs and creates a more ratepayer-centric energy market for a more sustainable future.”

“Our families deserve a clean and healthy environment and energy production plays a big role in that. This compromise gives our families access to cleaner energy and cost savings while protecting thousands of well-paying jobs and building a more sustainable future for generations to come,” Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell said. “Thanks to House members who helped get this bill passed to create a brighter energy future for our state.”

“This compromise will create and protect thousands of South Carolina jobs and open our energy markets to more competition. A good compromise like this shows that we can put partisanship aside and build a brighter future for all our state’s residents,” Rep. Nathan Ballentine said.

“Last year we fought tooth and nail for a solar bill and now all sides have come together to craft a compromise solution that saves and creates jobs, lowers power bills, and moves our state closer to a clean energy future,” Rep. Peter McCoy, Jr. said. This bill puts rates and customer choice above the bottom line of utilities and provides avenues for every South Carolinian to take advantage of the cost savings from solar energy. I am proud to sponsor this bill and be a part of this important piece of legislation. Thank you to all my colleagues in the House for advancing this compromise.”

“Energy plays a pivotal part in our everyday lives and our residents should have a say in where their energy comes from,” Rep. Gary Clary said.  This compromise shows that entities from all sides can work together and pass positive legislation that puts people first. South Carolina deserves a sustainable, clean energy future and this compromise is a good foundation. Thank you to members of the LCI Committee for supporting this compromise and to all House members who helped move this bill to the finish line.”

“The Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition and its members thank the State House for its decisive action, and call on the Senate to do the same,” Matt Moore, Chairman of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, said. “We are running out of time. The arbitrary cap on solar energy in South Carolina is rapidly approaching and could severely damage the state’s free-market energy economy. This legislation passed the House with unanimous support and we need the momentum to continue building in the Senate. Thousands of solar jobs and individual energy freedom are at stake.”

“We applaud the leadership exhibited by the House and encourage the Senate to pass the bill post haste,” Bryan Jacob, Solar Program Director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said. “Conservative leaders in South Carolina are demonstrating how compromise legislation can preserve sustainable solar markets.”

“South Carolina has the opportunity to be at the very forefront of our nation’s renewable energy revolution, and today’s vote in the House to pass the Energy Freedom Act helps put us on that path,” Sharon Richardson, Executive Director of Audubon South Carolina said. “Greater access to clean, affordable solar power is good for birds and people alike, helping drive job growth and investment while easing the transition away from emissions-heavy fossil fuel energy production.

“The South Carolina House has shown tremendous leadership in passing this much-needed legislation to lower consumers’ electric bills and create new local jobs,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said. “Now, it’s up to the Senate to quickly follow suit before the state’s burgeoning solar market gets stalled because of unnecessary red tape.”


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