Lawmakers are weighing two very different energy futures for the state.
One would empower families, churches and businesses to take control of their own electricity needs with solar energy. The other strips customers of their right to generate and use their own power in order to protect the old monopoly utility system that brought us the $9 billion V.C. Summer nuclear boondoggle.
The House is expected to vote on both paths soon.
The Consumer Bill of Rights (H.4421) limits monopoly power and is supported by a bipartisan, common-sense coalition of lawmakers who recognize that the answer to South Carolina’s energy woes is putting more control in the hands of consumers. It ensures that customers who invest their own dollars in solar energy receive full and fair credit on their power bills for valuable solar energy they send to the grid, which the utility resells at full price.
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With this bipartisan leadership, South Carolina is poised to benefit from a more balanced, all-of-the-above approach to energy that trusts market forces and consumer choice.
By contrast, H.5045, put forward by Rep. Bill Sandifer, strips away the liberty of consumers in order to protect utility profits.
Currently, consumers in every state have the right through net metering to install and use the power they generate on their own property to reduce the amount of electricity they have to purchase from the utility. Sandifer’s bill compels solar customers in South Carolina to either sell none of their self-generated power to the utility or else sell every bit of it, and at an unfairly low rate.
So no matter how much power their solar system produces, unless they go off the grid completely, solar customers must continue buying all of their electricity from the utility.
This policy would be the worst in the nation, stripping all benefit out of private investment in solar and immediately killing the burgeoning, homegrown rooftop-solar market.
Putting up new barriers against solar investment with H.5045 would be bad news for South Carolina’s consumers and its economy alike. Nearly 3,000 South Carolinians are already working in our growing solar sector. These hardworking men and women are harnessing local sunshine to provide for their families and building a safer, more secure energy future for all of us.
The Consumer Bill of Rights protects individual rights and energy freedom by allowing South Carolinians to meet their own energy needs with homegrown solar power.
By contrast, the Sandifer bill would extend the reach of the state-guaranteed electric monopolies into your kitchen, laundry room and bedroom, mandating that all electricity you consume in your home be purchased from the utility. This is the wrong direction for South Carolina.
In the wake of the V.C. Summer debacle, we need to put more trust and power in the hands of our citizens and restrict the ability of monopoly utilities to further rig the game against us.
Craig T. Caldwell