South Carolina is facing an energy crisis. Ratepayers have been stuck with a $9 billion bill for two failed nuclear power plants that will never produce a single unit of electricity and are now just giant holes in the ground.
We can either dig in our heels and rely on the costly, outdated energy infrastructure of the past, or we can embrace technological innovations for our future energy needs.
As a member of the S.C. House, I have seen first-hand the impact of subsidizing outdated, expensive energy infrastructure. SCE&G customers are paying an average of $27 a month on their electricity bills to subsidize construction for those two nuclear reactors. The utilities have already spent $9 billion, and finishing the job could have left customers on the hook for another $100 per month.
That’s why I am co-sponsoring the Energy Consumer Bill of Rights Act (H.4421), which will open the door for more energy choices in South Carolina, giving folks the ability to fight back against the monthly charges associated with the V.C. Summer mess.
Solar is booming in South Carolina, and the opportunity for our state is just beginning. H.4421 will allow for more home-grown solar energy, including expanding the state’s new net metering program, which is currently limited by state law. Net metering is a billing mechanism that gives consumers fair retail credit for the power they produce and send back to the grid and their neighbors.
There are nearly 3,000 solar workers here in South Carolina whose jobs could be at risk if we don’t pass this bill. We simply can’t afford to lose any more jobs after the 5,000 jobs already lost at V.C. Summer.
Rooftop solar investments from homeowners, schools and businesses not only help lower customers’ energy costs but also benefit the energy grid as a whole. By putting their own capital to work, these solar customers are supporting a lower cost, more modern energy infrastructure. That’s the free market working at its best.
This is about more than partisan politics. It’s about doing what’s best for all energy consumers. We need to grow South Carolina’s economy, not shrink it. It’s time to embrace solar technology as part of a diversified energy portfolio for the future. It’s time to offer more consumers new energy choices and lower electricity costs when they need it most.
Rep. Nathan Ballentine