This month, the South Carolina General Assembly unanimously voted in favor of the Energy Freedom Act. Last week, Governor McMaster signed the bill into law. This is very exciting news for the solar industry! This law allows for the continuation of fair policy and for people to have the solar that they produce whether they use it in their home or export it to the grid. This means that solar will be priced fairly for ALL, not just the consumer.
So how does it impact our solar customers?
For existing clients, it solidifies the timeline for the expiration of net metering as a rate schedule for those who have already committed to solar through at least 2025.
For new clients, it allows them to participate in the existing net metering policies that make solar fair and attractive to residential and business clients across South Carolina.
This also means important news for solar industry jobs. Without the passage of the Energy Freedom Act and the change to the return on investment for solar, all the companies that have been investing in building solar companies in South Carolina would have faced a dramatically new market. A market in which power generated from solar was not treated fairly and, therefore, was a more challenging proposition to residential clients. Many people who are making their career in solar in a variety of skill sets may have lost their jobs.
What was it NOT going to do?
As a result of this policy, the price of solar was not going to change dramatically and solar would not have become more expensive, but the homeowner’s return on investment would have been negative. Without the Energy Freedom Act, it would have taken many more years for solar owners to recoup their investment in clean energy, even though the cost of the installation would have been the same.
In some other parts of the country, the “value of solar” is actually considered to be higher. In these other areas, any electricity exported to the grid can potentially receive a premium because some of those utilities view solar as an asset on their gird. This means less service upgrades and less facility upgrades. It also means that there is no need to build out sub-stations or to produce as much power during peak hours because the utility companies know there is a base supply of solar in the market that can lower the demand they would otherwise have to produce.
What the Energy Freedom Act has done is allow clients of Southern Current DG and the utilities to purchase solar with the same fair and reasonable rate structures you already have, letting more people enjoy the benefits of solar.
In the long term, it offers more people the ability to advocate for solar from the position of owners of systems. The next time there is a legislative or policy issue the #SoCuSolarArmy can be a larger and more diverse voice for solar advocacy!
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