South Carolina - Oppose Expanded Subsidies

May 7, 2018

Dear Members of the Budget Conference Committee,

On behalf of the 22,876 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in South Carolina, I urge you to oppose an amendment you are considering today that would exacerbate wasteful solar subsidies that distort the energy playing field, pick winners and losers, and drive up costs for ratepayers and shareholders. 

The amendment to the budget would pad the pockets of wealthy solar companies, while punishing utility shareholders and upsetting the careful balance that was struck four years ago unanimously by the legislature when it enacted the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act (Act 236).

Electric utilities, the business community, environmentalists, and the solar industry worked together to gather support for that legislation.  Under Act 236, utilities agreed to provide a net-metering subsidy to the 2 percent cap for customers enrolled by 2020. 

This subsidy is currently a small part of the bill of every utility customer, and was meant to help the solar energy industry grow until it could stand on its own feet.  But, the amendment you will consider today seeks to expand the subsidy and shift the increased cost entirely to utility shareholders, who need a predictable investment environment rather than unjust punishment by their state government.  Utilities will not be able to make needed improvements to the grid or deliver lower bills to consumers if they must absorb even more costs. 

South Carolina’s solar industry is booming, and will continue to provide good-paying jobs without more corporate welfare.  Solar success comes mostly from the creativity of South Carolinians, its beautiful climate, and its business-friendly atmosphere, the development of which has long been an admirable focus of Palmetto State legislators. 

We do not need California-style solar subsidies in South Carolina.  Instead of doling out expensive and wasteful benefits to solar companies, legislators should continue to ensure a competitive, free, and fair energy market.  Please oppose the amendment to expand solar subsidies.

Sincerely,

Thomas Schatz

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