Energy Freedom Act passes SC House and Senate

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The Energy Freedom Act is headed to the governor’s desk after passing in the South Carolina General Assembly this week. 

“Basically, it keeps solar alive in the state,” said Cindy Meyer with Summit Solar. “Hundreds of jobs that would probably go elsewhere to more energy friendly states are going to stay here.”

Stakeholders from utilities, solar companies, regulators, and consumer advocates came together to hammer out the bill. 

It would allow new solar customers to continue to receive incentives that make solar panels more affordable into 2021. 

It would also save money for non-solar utility customers’ bills down the road. According to Bruce Wood, who owns Sunstore Solar, non-solar utility customers subsidize those with solar panels with a monthly charge. Wood said residential customers pay less than $1 a month, and businesses pay less than $10 a month for the subsidy. The bill would stop those charges in 2021. 

“By doing that, we’re no longer putting the incentive cost back on the other customers,” he said. 

For large scale solar, the bill would give some solar development projects the ability to secure a 10 year contract with the utility company. Enviornmentalists say solar is cheaper and more stable than other energy options, and having more of it on the grid will bring down utility prices for everyone over the long-term. 

“We’re going to see more clean energy put on the grid,” said John Tynan, who is the executive director of Conservation Voters of South Carolina. “We’re going to see more access to solar options. We’re going to see carbon emissions…[and] other air pollutants reduced as a result, and we’re going to see jobs contine to grow and bills go down.”

7 News reached out to Duke Energy for comment. Duke Energy spokesperson Ryan Mosier sent the following statement:

“We are pleased this comprehensive, compromise bill has been passed by the Legislature. It is the next step in the right direction for solar policy in South Carolina. We look forward to the governor signing it soon.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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