- A pro-solar bill that passed a preliminary vote in South Carolina's House of Representatives last week has suffered a last-minute defeat after procedural rule changes were made to require a two-thirds vote to pass, the Post & Courier reports.
- On a 64-33 vote last week, lawmakers voted to remove caps on the state's residential solar market. But the Post & Courier said a final vote yesterday was 61-44 in favor but short of the necessary 82 votes.
- Solar advocates had attempted to harness public anger towards the utilities in South Carolina, related to the failed VC Summer nuclear project which wasted billions and has raised questions of utility mismanagement.
It appeared last week as though solar advocates had won a significant victory amid fallout from South Carolina's nuclear expansion debacle. But as local media puts it, the "powerful utility companies snatched victory from the jaws of defeat Tuesday in the Statehouse."
Lawmakers that had been backing an alternative, more utility-friendly bill, forced the solar bill to require a two-thirds vote rather than simple majority. Advocates say the move could destroy 3,000 jobs as the solar industry approaches the residential caps.
By law, the state's electricity mix can include no more than 2% residential solar. That limit is expected to be hit later this year.
Palmetto Solar Vice President James Koehler told the Post & Courier earlier this year that the industry cannot expand under the current situation. "If you want companies like ours to thrive, please give us that certainty," Koehler said.
The solar defeat is particularly stinging to customer advocates who point to the state's recent nuclear failure.
SCANA Corp., the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas, abandoned the V.C. Summer nuclear plant last summer after spending $9 billion in ratepayer funds. State-owned Santee Cooper also partnered on the development. In response, lawmakers have been working to keep SCE&G from recovering nuclear costs from customers. Currently, about 18% of SCE&G customer bills goes to pay for the nuclear debacle.