Energy Freedom Act passes in the South Carolina Legislature

May 14, 2019 GMT

A bill meant to streamline South Carolina’s solar industry and promote its growth in the state was approved recently by the South Carolina Legislature.

In January, the Energy Freedom Act was passed unanimously by the S.C. House of Representatives. Last week, it was approved by the S.C. Senate and now goes to the governor’s office for final review.

The bill has some major provisions for the solar industry in South Carolina; it removes the current 2% net-metering cap, allows customers to be compensated for the energy they produce and establishes a greater regulatory structure for solar energy to compete with big power companies.

The bill received bipartisan support in the S.C. Legislature. Advocates, including the bill’s sponsor, Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, have claimed it will help create thousands of new jobs and lead to growth in the industry.

A previous study by the Environment America Research and Policy Center ranked South Carolina as one of the top states for potential growth in the solar power industry. The market currently employs about 3,000 people in South Carolina.

Groups such as Audubon South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, Palmetto Conservative Coalition and Solar Energy Industries Association released positive statements following the legislature’s approval of the bill.

“We commend state lawmakers for again finding a way to generate collaborative, bipartisan progress on solar energy, and we thank the lead sponsors of the bill, Senator Tom Davis and Representative Peter McCoy, for enabling our solar industry to continue to grow and innovate,” said the Coastal Conservation League in an email.

A statement from Audubon South Carolina, which has established sanctuaries across the country, including in Aiken, said the passage of the bill marks the “time for South Carolina to claim its rightful place as a renewable leader in the Southeast.”