Even with “Poison Pill” Removed, Solar Advocates not Thrilled with South Carolina Legislation


South Carolina solar continues to struggle, as evidenced by a new bill that’s been the subject of intense controversy in the state. The bill, due to be signed by Governor Haley, doesn’t pose a threat to the solar industry but is far from model legislation.


Solar power in South Carolina has been struggling to catch up to other states. The state has plenty of solar resources, and some of the most restrictive solar laws in the nation on the use of those resources. Some think that may be about to change. A lot will depend on policy in the state, and today we got news of a development in that area.


TUSK America (Tell Utlities Solar won’t be Killed) put out a press release today about Senate Bill 1189, due to be signed by Governor Haley after passing through the House and Senate unanimously in the last two weeks. The bill, the organization said, was initially widely lauded by environmentalists and utilities alike but then became the subject of intense controversy in the state.


In its initial form, TUSK said, the bill allowed for utilities to shut down competition from independent rooftop solar companies in South Carolina. However, the bill met with widespread public outcry from those who felt it was an attack on customer choice. It was subsequently amended to remove that “poison pill.”


Still, solar advocates are not happy with the final bill, which they say favors utilities heavily and is far from model legislation for solar. A testament to the significant flaws in this legislation is that no national solar advocacy organizations publicly supported the bill throughout the legislative process.  


“Utilities are constantly trying to attack rooftop solar because it threatens their monopolies,” said TUSK America Co-Chair Barry Goldwater, Jr. in today’s statement. “After being faced with a consistent record of defeat by solar advocates, they’re now trying to change the rules. Utility ownership of rooftop solar is not free market competition and it is not acceptable.”  


TUSK pointed to the benefits of solar that other states have seen and warned that “lawmakers who hope to foster the same benefits in South Carolina should be wary of utility attacks on rooftop solar, both indirect and direct.”