Solar companies keeping close eye on Energy Freedom Act

Solar companies keeping close eye on Energy Freedom Act

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Sunrun is one of the 81 solar companies in South Carolina.

There is no doubt they are paying close attention to the Energy Freedom Act (H.3659) as it moves through the State House.

Solar companies and advocates for the bill say if it isn’t signed into law, South Carolina could lose thousands of solar jobs and potential investments. Tyson Grinstead with Sunrun said, “This is not like a VC Summer where overnight something happens and thousands of people are laid off. This is something we’ve seen coming for years.”

According to the Solar Foundation, there are 2,983 solar jobs in South Carolina right now. There was a 5% increase from 2017. Grinstead said job growth has slowed since most parts of the state are nearing a net-metering cap. “It creates uncertainty for employees. It makes every day an issue of what that’s going to be like going forward.”

Net-metering is an incentive for solar panel users that send any energy they don’t use back to the grid. That power is used to supply other customers. The solar panel users are sent a credit.

One of the things the Energy Freedom Act will do is eliminate the cap. It will give the South Carolina Public Service Commission until 2021 to come up with a long term net metering rate.

The Energy Freedom Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last week. It is now headed to the Senate.

Grinstead said they’ve made it through one hurdle but knows there is still work left to do. “We obviously realize what happens in the legislature in the next month and a half dictates whether we’re open for business in South Carolina and other solar companies just like us.”

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