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Columbia Business Monthly

SC House Passes Energy Freedom Act

Feb 22, 2019 11:30AM ● By Kathleen Maris

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 on February 21 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, and representatives from Duke Energy. The compromise bill now moves over to the Senate to consider.

“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,” said John Tynan, executive director of Conservation Voters of SC. “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.”

“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,” said Matt Moore, chairman of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition (PCSC). “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,” said Bryan Jacob, solar program director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Conservative leaders in South Carolina are demonstrating how compromise legislation can preserve sustainable solar markets.”

“The Energy Freedom Act benefits our environment and economy, and moves South Carolina forward toward a cleaner energy future,” said Laura Cantral, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League. “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.”

“The South Carolina House has shown tremendous leadership in passing this much-needed legislation to lower consumers’ electric bills and create new local jobs,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “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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