Bill coincides with recent polling confirming significant voter support for solar choice

Today, state lawmakers returned to Columbia for the 2019 Session and will debate new legislation from Republican State Senator Tom Davis aimed at providing families, businesses, schools, and other energy consumers energy options by reducing costs, increasing competition, and maintaining the South Carolina’s popular net metering program. It will also expand solar options to renters and low-income residents through community solar.

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The ‘Clean Energy Access Act’ (Senate Bill S.332) will:

  • remove the current cap on net metering, which credits solar customers for the excess clean energy they send back to the grid

  • provide a ‘Bill of Rights’ that makes it easier for consumers to manage their own energy usage through the use of solar panels

  • protect all residential electric consumers against high fixed charges

  • establish a Neighborhood Community Solar Program that allows more people to benefit from solar energy savings

  • increase competition in the energy sector

  • launch a voluntary Renewable Program for Large Energy Users

The new Clean Energy Access Act comes on the heels of a statewide poll conducted by Benchmark Research, a South Carolina polling firm that shows statistically unanimous voter support (95%) for providing utility customers the choice to install solar panels on their homes and businesses to reduce reliance on their utility.

“I am excited to see Republican-led legislation kick off the effort to bring more clean energy to South Carolina,” said Thad Culley, Southeast Director at Vote Solar. “Families and businesses deserve the right to save money and decide how and from where they get their electricity, and polling shows that voters overwhelmingly agree. This clean energy legislation will give customers that choice while helping families save money and keeping local, good-paying jobs in the state. In South Carolina’s changing energy landscape, the needs of the people and the economy should be front and center.”

Other key findings in the poll, conducted between December 8-11, show that a large majority of voters would support a new law that gives consumers more choices in where they buy power and allow consumers to choose their energy supplier. Nearly 3 in 4 voters believe they would be able to find a better deal on their energy bill if utilities had to compete with other suppliers of energy.

METHODOLOGY

The statewide survey of registered voters in South Carolina was conducted from December 8-11, 2018 and represent the opinions of 400 South Carolinians.  Respondents were contacted by telephone using a combination of valid residential and cellular telephone listings (285 respondents were reached via landline; 115 respondents were reached via cell phones.)  Each respondent was registered to vote in South Carolina and part of a representative sample based on current voter registration statistics. Data was stratified to represent accurate proportions in vital characteristics including race, age, gender, geography and political persuasion.  The margin of error for a survey of this type is ± 4.46% for 19 out of 20 cases. Statistically Unanimous means having the agreement of 100% of the sample, within the margin of error.

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