On Thursday night, Gov. Henry McMaster, R-S.C., signed into law The Energy Freedom Act, which is expected to bring myriad benefits to the solar industry.
- Requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to initiate a new proceeding to review and approve rates and terms provided to large-scale solar facilities, ensuring contract terms are reasonable for such projects;
- Allows large energy consumers, such as industrial manufacturers, to negotiate directly with a renewable energy supplier to more easily realize savings from solar;
- Eliminates net metering caps and extends the existing residential solar rates for two years until the PSC determines a successor program;
- Provides for more transparency and competition in long-term utility generation planning; and
- Gives the PSC the authority to establish a new neighborhood community solar program, with the opportunity to expand solar access to low-income customers.
According to the Sierra Club, the legislation was championed by Republican House Judiciary Chairman Peter McCoy and Republican Sen. Tom Davis, among others. A total of 50 bipartisan representatives and 11 bipartisan senators sponsored companion bills originally filed.
“It’s amazing to see our renewable energy efforts nationwide becoming less and less constrained by political party and geography,” says Dave Rogers, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in the Carolinas. “In South Carolina, the state recently cancelled boondoggle nuclear units that were fleecing ratepayers and new coal plants in the state are no longer an option. It’s clear that renewable energy is the future nationwide. The sun shines just as bright in the South as it does anywhere else.”
More details on the bill, as laid out by SEIA, can be found here.