Conservation voters want you to know they’re all for the solar bill

This release came in a little while ago:


Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the path for the state legislature to give us the sun with solar energy legislation.

The vote was 19-1 in favor, which is unheard of for a piece of legislation like this and a testament to the hard work of our negotiators and a resolve by all the stakeholders to find consensus. As for the sole vote against, we can only assume that the legislator had his judgment temporarily blocked by the bright glare of the sun.

Because the legislation is currently under attack by solar industry groups from out of state, we want to be clear: we wholeheartedly support this bill. We hope this is the beginning of a new era in energy independence for South Carolinians.

Thank you for being a supporter of solar in South Carolina. We still need your help to push this legislation through the Senate and House and to Governor Haley’s desk. The Senate takes its first vote on S.536 this week. Learn more about this issue and contact your elected officials to encourage them to vote YES. To contact your legislator click HERE and just type in your address.

Once S.536 gets through the Senate it moves to the House, so let’s keep up the “heat” to assure that South Carolina’s brightest days are ahead.

Thank you for all you do.


Shawn Drury
Field Director, CVSC

I thought it interesting that the out-of-state industry group is headed by Barry Goldwater. Junior. If he manages to pose a problem to passage of the bill, maybe CVSC could do an advocacy ad featuring a little girl and a daisy

18 thoughts on “Conservation voters want you to know they’re all for the solar bill

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, if you were entrusted with stewardship of a company that had invested billions in conventional energy-generating infrastructure, you might look askance at it. Which is why it’s important that such stakeholders are on board with this…

    2. Doug Ross

      You can be for solar energy but oppose the bill. From reading the article, it’s not clear to me why the government should be able to apply any restrictions on how and when solar power is used. Why should there be caps on the amount of power Furman University can generate through solar panels? Why should I as a homeowner be required to even TELL the government that I have solar panels?

      This is one of those “protect the monopoly” bills that make sure money keeps flowing to well connected people/industries.

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Brad, I heard the Santee Cooper guy poo poo wind energy at Rotary. Others who do not have vested interests in opposing it say it is very doable.

    1. Norm Ivey

      I think the jury’s still out on wind in SC. Windmills would have to be offshore, and probably a pretty good ways out to get constant wind.

      A resource you seldom hear discussed, but which I saw in a report once (I can’t locate it right now, but here’s an article) is wood biomass. Between our row crop pines and scrub oak forests there’s considerable potential for sustainable power generation. Wood has the added benefits of creating local jobs and being carbon neutral because the carbon stored in trees in current carbon, not fossil fuel carbon. Why burn Kentucky coal if we can burn Carolina pines?

  2. Bryan Caskey

    This is the first I’ve seen of this bill, and even after reading the piece in The State, I’m still not sure what the bill is all about. Having said that, I think the commentariat (including me) is in agreement that anyone who wants to use solar energy should be allowed to do so. Frankly, I’m kind of surprised that SC had some sort of restrictions on it to begin with.

    Lets have as many sources of energy as possible. If it’s viable, the market will support it. If it’s not, then maybe there needs to be some better designs. I’d use some solar panels on my house if the cost-benefit analysis worked out right.

  3. Mark Stewart

    Compared with other states, SC is about as backwards, or pro-electric utility, as states go regarding this issue. Yes, there are some issues over feeding the power generated back into the grid. But this is mostly just a big red herring. The utilities just want to be monopolies. They are missing the boat in opposing solar – and even wind. Of course it doesn’t help that the state is sort of in the power business.

    The sun shines a lot in SC. Every shopping center and distribution center roof ought to be covered in solar panels. New construction houses should incorporate them, too. People ought to not blight their neighborhoods with ill-considered installations – there’s enough crap blighting residential and commercial properties as it is in the state.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I’d love to add them to my roof! Diverting the heat to electricity in summer would be awesome.

    2. Doug Ross

      I was watching a show called “Building Alaska” this weekend where a guy was building a decent sized lodge on an island near Kodiak. They showed a small wind turbine (maybe 15 feet high with 2 foot blades) that would be able to power the whole house (with backup generators for non-windy times). Why wouldn’t we want everyone who can to do this?

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I guess because the power companies, with our money, built infrastructure to supply power even when it isn’t sunny or windy?

        But I agree. If we can generate power and avoid having to build even more carbon-spewing power stations, let’s!

  4. Kathryn Fenner

    As I understand it, a passive solar water heater is already cost effective. If we hadn’t gone tankless….

    1. Norm Ivey

      And they are relatively simple to build. You can find plans online. I keep hoping (just a little) our tank will fail just so I can at least consider the option.

        1. Norm Ivey

          There are different models. some have storage tanks; others just have a network of tubes or cylinders that act both as a heating element and storage. I had in mind a homemade system that is essentially several coils of black pipe encased in some sort of thermal box–like a miniature greenhouse. If you use enough pipe, storage tanks are unnecessary. Of course, several days of cloudy weather means you lose all your hot water. Commercially produced systems have tanks that are thermostatically controlled to transfer water from the heating tubes to the tank and back.

          1. Kathryn Fenner

            If you tacked this onto your existing system, the existing one could act as a backup?

            1. Norm Ivey

              When I was toying with the idea a few years ago, I envisioned a sort of pre-heater–using the sun to heat the water before it was delivered into my water heater, requiring far less energy to heat the water, and on some days, none at all.

              I lost my enthusiasm for the idea when I realized that there may be times when the sun would heat the water higher than what my water heater would on its own, making control of the temperature of the shower water a daily guessing game.

              And I remembered I’m one of the world’s worst handymen.

  5. Norm Ivey

    There are a couple of reasons why South Carolina has been slow to adopt solar power. The first is economics. The cost of purchasing and installing solar panels is daunting under any circumstances. What makes it economically favorable in some states are the net-metering laws which regulate how much a resident or business can recover by selling their solar-generated power back to the utility companies. A model that has developed in many areas in the last decade has companies buying the panels and leasing them to consumers. The consumer gets a lower power rate, but is expected to purchase all power generated–even if it exceeds their demand. The leasing company gets any tax credits or other incentives. In a favorable net-metering climate, they also get payments from the utility company for the power they send back to the grid. It’s a model that is working well in locations with decent net metering laws. South Carolina’s net-metering laws are some of the most limiting in the nation. It’s not economically feasible to install your own or for someone to lease them to you.

    The second barrier is our location. As sunny as we are, we’re far from the 350+ sunny days you get in the southwest. Our latitude makes us about average for solar potential (the sun’s rays don’t strike our little piece of heaven directly enough, and there’s enough particulate matter in the air–think pollen–to reduce its intensity). We’re better off than, say, Virginia, which has limited potential for solar development, but we’ll never have big solar farms like you see out west. Incredible improvements have been made in solar panels in the last few years, but the type that are mounted on residential rooftops are at best about 15% efficient (they convert 15% of the energy they absorb from the sun into electricity). When you consider all the variables and compare them to what we have already in place, solar panels just aren’t that attractive an option (pun intended).

    I love the idea of solar power, and I think it will be an important part of the energy mix in the future, but there are some unrealistic expectations about what it can do in the short term. This legislation is aimed at making the leasing option more viable in South Carolina. I suspect the power companies have in mind that they will become the leasing company, or at least have a stake in them.

    In the end, most residential installs in the near future are going to be of the feel-good variety, which is still a good thing. A feature most people don’t realize is that if your system is still connected to the grid, when your neighbor’s power goes out, so does yours. I was at a session at an energy expo in North Carolina a few years back, and it was pretty funny how many people became completely unenamored with solar when they learned this little tidbit.

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