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A Solar Victory in South Carolina

Wednesday, May 15 2019

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By
Abigail Ross Hopper
southern current project

The solar industry won a transformative victory at the South Carolina Statehouse last week when the state Legislature unanimously passed the Energy Freedom Act, a sweeping bill that will help significantly lower electricity costs and create jobs in the Palmetto State.

SEIA was instrumental in securing this win through advocacy, external affairs and public education alongside a broad coalition of industry groups.

We began with the following goals:

  • eliminate the net metering cap for residential solar;
  • ensure fair and transparent rates for both residential and large-scale solar;
  • reform the process behind utility resource planning;
  • ensure fair and timely contracts for large-scale solar providers; and
  • make solar available and accessible to all South Carolinians.

Part of the campaign strategy included organizing site visits, holding lobby days and creating educational collateral to earn a bipartisan consensus on solar policy among lawmakers in Columbia.

SEIA worked with numerous coalition partners on this legislation, including the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance, the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, Conservation Voters of South Carolina, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Environmental Law Center. In addition, 33 solar companies signed a joint letter to the Senate, and many others lobbied their representatives directly. Finally, we worked with the local business community, resulting in 32 corporations – including Home Depot, Marriott, Target, Volvo, and Walmart – submitting a letter of support for the bill, and numerous op-eds in local and regional papers.

As a coalition, we met with dozens of House and Senate members, sharing the positive impact that solar has on the state's economy, businesses and residents. We placed multiple op-eds in newspapers across the state and put out press statements that earned dozens of mentions in local and trade media.

This all culminated with a unanimous vote in the House in February, and another unanimous vote in the Senate last Wednesday. Our win is an example of what happens when our industry comes together, bringing allies along with us, to speak with one voice in an effort to reach a common goal.

The work is not yet over, as we push for Governor McMaster to sign this legislation into law so that clean energy can start working again for South Carolinians.

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