Solar panel prices dropped considerably in recent years, and as solar installations become more and more cost competitive, well-positioned states will realize dramatic economic growth through solar energy investment. Although South Carolina ranks 10th nationally in solar potential, neighboring states like North Carolina and Georgia are out-competing us by leaps and bounds for job growth in this sector due to more effective policies targeted at growing their solar industries.
North Carolina is currently home to 501 solar firms and employs an estimated 1,985 workers in the solar arena. A number of ancillary markets also benefit from increased solar deployment, including the steel, aluminum, engineering, legal, electrical, chemical, and construction sectors. With innovative solar financing options, as well as updated net metering and interconnection policies, South Carolina could see dramatic economic growth in its solar sector.
Third party ownership of distributed energy systems like solar panels allows property owners to lower their bills and increase control over where their power comes from. One particular piece of legislation, H.3425, seeks to unleash the power of the free market by deploying private capital to finance solar installations. The South Carolina legislature has the opportunity to allow significant private investment in solar energy by allowing the leasing of panels.
Around the country, substantial amounts of private capital are being invested in this business model, and H.3425 ensures South Carolinians will also be allowed to participate in a growing market that will stimulate local job creation while advancing the state’s economy and giving utility customers relief from the strain of ever rising energy bills.
H.3425 allows electric utility customers to become consumers of renewable energy without having to shoulder the high upfront cost of equipment like solar panels. Through this innovative, free market financing solution, any business, church, school, military base, homeowner, etc. can lock in affordable, long-term rates for electricity produced on their own property. The bill makes this financing possible by allowing third parties to sell electricity to an existing customer of an electric utility, a practice which is currently prohibited because our utilities hold exclusive rights to sell electricity within their service territories.
Media coverage of Solar Leasing Movement in SC
Additional information on solar leasing across the nation
Additional information about solar energy and SC