Solar bill advances in South Carolina; Maine bill fails to withstand LePage veto
- The solar industry in South Carolina scored a victory this week in the House of Representatives, when lawmakers voted to remove caps on the state's residential solar market.
- Following a 64-33 vote the bill now heads to the Senate, where a tough fight is expected. According to the Charleston Post & Courier, solar advocates got a boost from anger directed at the nuclear industry and anger over the V.C. Summer nuclear plant debacle.
- But in Maine, the House was unable to muster the votes to override a veto from Gov. Paul LePage (R), to prohibit utilities from requiring a second meter for net metering customers.
LePage has vetoed solar bills in the last three years, so his rejection of a bill to make solar more affordable is not a surprise. The Press Herald said the measure passed easily the first time around, but in the House solar supporters lost voted when it came time to override the veto. LePage has opposed solar net metering for years, believing it to be a subsidy paid by customers without solar panels.
In South Carolina the solar industry scored a victory, though the Post & Courier says some of that is related to anger at the nuclear industry. SCANA Corp. spent billions before pulling the plug on its VC Summer nuclear project, and the fallout from the debacle continues as lawmakers and regulators struggle with the financial implications.
The industry did have to restructure the solar bill to gain passage, including adding a measure forbidding utilities from raising rates to pay for incentives.
Lawmakers in South Carolina have been working to limit SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas from recovering nuclear costs from customers, but that idea appears to threaten Dominion Energy's interest in buying SCANA. Currently, about 18% of SCE&G customer bills goes to pay for the nuclear debacle.
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