The legislative showdown between SC utilities and reformers

solar panels

As long as I’m throwing tweets at you, let’s contrast Henry McMaster’s fatuous nonsense with what’s going on among people at the State House who actually care about issues that matter to South Carolina.

We’ll start with this:

Oh, there goes that Brad Warthen promoting James Smith again! Well, not just him. We’re talking about a bipartisan coalition of actual leaders who are standing up to the pro-utility interests that brought you the Base Load Review Act.

This is what’s going on in the State House in this universe, as opposed to the one Henry lives in. In this universe, there’s a battle going on between people who continue to push the narrow interests of the utility industry and those who’d like us to be able to declare independence from them.

As a blog post over at the CVSC site says:

Let me set the scene for a big showdown that’s about to take place at the Statehouse…

There are two bills…

One bill was practically written by the utility monopolies. Not surprisingly, this bill would reward them for their role in the disastrous V.C. Summer debacle. Also, not surprisingly, this bill was introduced and rushed through subcommittee almost overnight by House members who’ve received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from utility monopolies.

The other bill would promote the growth of solar energy in South Carolina. This bill rewards consumers by treating them fairly and ensuring that our state’s solar energy market will continue to produce good-paying jobs and affordable energy for our families. Not surprisingly, this bill has been challenged at every step….

Here’s a comparison of the two bills:


10 thoughts on “The legislative showdown between SC utilities and reformers

  1. Doug Ross

    Both of those bills demonstrate the stupidity of government. Why should there be ANY laws related to solar energy — -especially if it relates to how I want to power my home? If I want to go off the grid I should be able to do that without the permission of utlities or the government.

    No tax breaks should be given either. That’s trying to influence behavior with the tax code – a dumb idea always (mortgage deductions, charitable deductions, etc.)

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      That’s what you got out of that?

      I would have thought a libertarian would immediately prefer 4421 — the bill that lifts the artificial cap.

      You can’t just say, “The hell with it all, because I WISH there were no laws regulating utilities.” There ARE such laws, so the question is, what do we do in the face of that reality?

    2. Claus2

      Utilities should be no different than say cable television, if you want to pull the plug and it won’t harm anyone go for it. Load up your yard and roof with solar panels, fill a bedroom full of batteries and be self sufficient power-wise. Wells and septic tanks should also be allowed. If mega-farms can pull billions of gallons out of the ground, why can’t I pump a few thousand gallons on my lawn?

      Solar is such a rip-off, just listening to the Home Show vendors a few weeks ago sounding like carnival barkers is a warning sign. It takes an average of 7 years to break even on the cost of a roof mounted system. That doesn’t include damage from roof leaks caused by dozens of holes drilled into your roof. Time for shingles to be replaced? Better call your solar vendor, if they’re still in business, to pull your system off and reinstall it when the roofers are done with your $9000 new roof… just in time to put a few dozen more holes into it. You want solar and are smart, I hope you don’t mind losing your backyard.

    3. Mark Stewart

      Doug, I don’t think you understand how solar works… The power generated is sent into the grid. Being off-grid isn’t of concern to anyone, utilities included. But that isn’t what is at stake here.

  2. Mark Stewart

    Doug, I don’t think you understand how solar works… The power generated is sent into the grid. Being off-grid isn’t of concern to anyone, utilities included. But that isn’t what is at stake here.

  3. Norm Ivey

    It would be pretty difficult for a modern suburbanite to replace all of his or her energy needs with a rooftop system. I’m pretty stingy with my electricity, and I still wouldn’t be able to pull it off. My roof isn’t big enough for my lifestyle.

    A rooftop system doesn’t feed directly into your home. All of the energy produced is delivered to the grid. Your actual consumption comes from that same grid, but could still be generated by coal or other type of plant or any of the mini plants located on your neighbor’s rooftops. The idea is that your solar array reduces the demand on the traditional plant, thereby reducing emissions.

    There are ways to go completely off grid, but it requires making lifestyle changes and building in such a manner as to take advantage of things like southern exposures to warm your home. Not to mention that all of the maintenance responsibilities are on you. If your power goes out during a storm, it doesn’t get restored until you fix it. If you have panels on your roof in a grid-tied system, damage to the panels are still your responsibility, but your power will be restored when everyone else’s is. And yes, your power goes out when everyone else’s does as well. Solar doesn’t protect your from that.

    The business model that’s driving the current boom goes something like this. An installer sells and installs the panels, which you pay for over several years. The debt you’re repaying is a steady cost and doesn’t fluctuate or increase the way a power bill does. You have a lower monthly power bill. All energy and tax credits go to the installer. If it all goes your way, then when your solar panel debt is paid, you’ve paid less in sum than you would have if you had continued to pay your power bill with projected increases.

    We looked into it, but faced a couple of sticking points. First, if solar panel become widespread, the actual increase in power bills will be less than the projected increase, so the anticipated savings will be less or non-existent. Second (and this is unique to our situation), we are approaching retirement in the next few years, and our money is better spent on preparing for that glorious event.

    That said, I’m all for solar and wind power, and I hope 4421 passes.

  4. bud

    Mark that was what I was thinking too but wasn’t sure. If you want to build a house on your land somewhere not affiliated with any kind of subdivision then you could legally stay 100% off the grid. But once you do connect to the grid then there are regulations that apply. Makes sense to me.

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