Sunny moods for solar energy supporters in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The sunshine outdoors likely matched the moods of solar energy advocates in South Carolina on Thursday. They called the House vote to expand the industry a win.

The debate was heated at times, but H. 4421 passed the House in a vote of 64 to 33, to eliminate the 2% cap on solar energy.

As the bell rang, the votes came in and the green signaled a win for solar energy advocates and users, like Tom Falvey.

"I do think that people should have the right to choose where they get their power," Falvey, who's installed solar panels on his roof, explained. He's one user who says the panels help lower his electric bill.

Representatives say 3,000 solar jobs across the state would be saved if H. 4421 becomes law.

"What it means now, instead of having the monopoly- we call them the monopolies here, the utilities-  instead of them controlling and dictating everything in this House and in this state now for once we have an energy policy that gives people options," one bill sponsor Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R- Richland) said.

Not all were supportive, however. Some pushed another bill, H. 5045, arguing the pro-solar one excludes a number of utility companies from benefiting from solar energy. That bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Forrester (R- Spartanburg), tried to get it through and delay H. 4421 until a study could be done "so we can continue to grow our renewable portfolios, this amendment establishes a study committee."

Those like Falvey say the pro-solar measure could ultimately help more people power their homes. But it's not law yet; it has to pass in the Senate after it gets a third reading in the House.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.