South Carolina - Oppose H.B. 4421 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

South Carolina - Oppose H.B. 4421

State Action

March 21, 2018

Dear Legislators,

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 H.B. 4421, which would jeopardize important reforms to net metering that were achieved in 2014 through the unanimous enactment of the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act (Act 236).  This landmark legislation promoted a diversified portfolio of energy resources in the state and made rooftop solar energy more accessible for homeowners by opening the state up to solar leasing with robust consumer protections. 

Act 236 allows utilities to build solar facilities in the state and recoup their costs, just like they do for other forms of energy.  The legislation was passed with the collaborative efforts of electric utilities, the broader business community, environmentalists, and the solar industry.  Act 236 helped to create jobs and establish South Carolina as a leader in renewable energy. 

Utilities agreed to provide a net-metering subsidy to the 2 percent cap for customers enrolled through 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 H.B. 4421 seeks to expand the subsidy and shift the increased cost entirely to utility shareholders, which include ordinary taxpaying citizens of South Carolina.  This was never intended by the 2014 legislation. 

Government should not be picking winners and losers, including in the energy market, and solar customers should not be subsidized by consumers using other forms of energy.  Everyone who uses the grid should be involved in supporting its maintenance and investment.  H.B. 4421 would violate these essential principles by padding the pockets of wealthy solar companies while punishing utility shareholders.  This is corporate welfare legislation that would upset the careful balance that was struck four years ago.

Thanks to its business-friendly climate, South Carolina has attracted good jobs in the energy industry, including many solar jobs.  The best way to continue this growth is not through the heavy hand of government but through a healthy economic atmosphere that rewards investment, offers predictability for businesses, and treats all consumers fairly. 

South Carolina Republicans should not be doing the bidding of California-based progressive “clean energy” tycoons.  Instead of doling out benefits to solar companies, legislators in South Carolina should continue to ensure a competitive, free, and fair energy market.

On behalf of South Carolina taxpayers and ratepayers, I ask you to oppose H.B. 4421.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Schatz

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