South Carolina solar industry members are holding their breath. An important piece of legislation has been introduced to state lawmakers that, when approved, will open the floodgates on construction of renewable power plants and billions of dollars in additional tax revenues for counties all across the state.
Tax Reform Bill Would Benefit Everyone In South Carolina
Sun-rich states all over the U.S. have realized the economic potential that solar energy brings with it, and have aggressively pursued the opportunity to harness this resource. For example, in 2008 the North Carolina legislature enacted a renewable energy property tax exemption. In less than seven years, North Carolina went from a state with solar power being nearly nonexistent to ranking second for solar energy capacity. North Carolina has been called the “South’s leader in solar power.” To our southwest, Georgia is making significant strides as well, landing just outside the top five nationally in solar capacity.
In 2015, a paltry $10 million went towards investment in solar installations in South Carolina, compared to $311 million in Georgia and a whopping $1.69 billion in North Carolina.
But South Carolina lawmakers have the power to change this state of affairs. The Renewable Energy Jobs and Economic Development Bill (S. 44/H.3079) would allow unused or agricultural land to be turned into utility scale solar farms and similarly exempt the value of renewable energy resource property for residential use. The South Carolina Senate has already passed the bill, but action needs to be taken in the House to allow our state to unleash the potential for solar investment that can come to South Carolina.
Estimates indicate that within three years of the bill becoming law, more than 90 solar projects could be installed across the Palmetto State, over $1 Billion dollars of investment.
A higher tax base means more revenue for counties all across our state. The open fields where solar farms are built currently pay about $50 a year in property taxes, while in the first year alone an average solar farm would generate $35,000 that could go towards our schools, roads and local services in the community.
Solar investments will also bring quality jobs to South Carolina. A recent report on the solar industry in North Carolina identified a “value chain” spanning over 450 companies which arose as a result of similar legislation. Taken together, this chain employs over 4,500 people. With over 1,000 solar jobs added in South Carolina in 2016, imagine what our state could do with a solar-friendly framework!
South Carolina’s lawmakers have before them an opportunity that will truly revolutionize the way South Carolina does business. By putting the state’s solar industry on equal regulatory and tax footing as our neighbors, the Renewable Energy Jobs and Economic Development Bill will create thousands of solar industry jobs, generate revenues for local communities, and attract new investments, and convince business to set up shop and expand existing business in South Carolina.
While there may be many legislative items vying for the attention of the South Carolina House, this is one that cannot and should not be ignored. Solar energy technology has been improving steadily, and the time is now for South Carolina to harness that opportunity.
Speak Up For More Solar In South Carolina
Speak up if you want MORE SOLAR in South Carolina! Tell your representatives to support S.44 TODAY! Click the link below, type in your address, and contact your legislators to let them know you support S.44/H.3079 and want MORE SOLAR!