Opinion Extra

Rajca: The time is right for solar in South Carolina

tdominick@thestate.com

There are as many sunny days in South Carolina as there are in North Carolina, yet the Palmetto State lags far behind our neighbor to the north in solar energy. Indeed, North Carolina has installed 953 megawatts of solar energy, ranking it fourth in the country in installed solar capacity. In contrast, South Carolina only has 9 megawatts of solar energy installed, putting it way down at 31st.

But rest assured, over the next 18 months, together, we are going to change all that.

Homeowners in the Midlands can now quickly, simply and easily get solar for their homes. And here’s the added bonus: If 60 people in a community get solar, we’ll give you free solar for any community building you want. Want your church to have solar? Get 60 parishners to go solar, and — boom — your church gets free solar.

We’re already operating in Charleston, and this past week we launched Solarize South Carolina in Columbia. We have set a goal to more than triple the amount of residential solar in the state. And as S.C. residents get solar on their homes, we’ll grow solar investments and create jobs in communities across South Carolina.

Solarize is an award-winning and proven “group buy” residential solar program that is accelerating the growth of solar in many communities across the United States. We are a non-profit organization that helps consumers go solar through community programs. We plan to install solar on 2,000 homes in South Carolina in the next 18 months.

South Carolina is already building momentum behind renewable energy. In April of 2014, the Legislature unanimously passed a bill to allow net metering and encourage solar generation. This law has played a significant role in transforming the solar landscape and paving the way for homeowners to get solar through programs such as ours.

Unlike other states, where utilities are fighting solar, South Carolina has the advantage of an ally in the utility SCE&G. “The work that is being done by Solarize South Carolina will give SCE&G customers another clean energy option and help to advance solar across the state as intended by the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act that was signed into law last year,” said company spokesman Danny Kassis. “Our support and investment in solar is an important part of this effort to create a balanced energy portfolio that will serve our customers for the future. We are excited to see this innovative and award-winning program come to South Carolina.”

The support of SCE&G is significant and shows that South Carolinians are truly working together to expand our energy portfolio.

Homeowners can take advantage of tax incentives and use Solarize to find pre-screened installers so they know they’re getting a good deal — and insulating themselves from future energy cost increases. Find more information at SolarizeSC.org.

Ms. Rajca is community outreach manager for Solarize South Carolina’s Columbia initiative and a member of the board of the S.C. Solar Council; contact her at shummelrajca@gmail.com.

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