As state legislators, we are elected to uphold the public trust and do what is right for our communities. My colleagues and I in the South Carolina state Legislature did just that when we unanimously passed The Energy System Freedom of Ownership Act, which Gov. Nikki Haley subsequently signed into law (Act No. 236) earlier this month.
These days, particularly on the federal level, it seems more popular to parade around like polarizing political figureheads rather than to work for solutions as pragmatic policymakers. But rather than follow the latest political trends, the South Carolina General Assembly took the historic step of adopting a progressive framework for solar energy expansion in our state.
I am heartened by the bipartisan work and feel confident that our constituents are now on a path to becoming part of the solar energy revolution in one of the most cost-effective and affordable ways possible.
Many states have rate structures in place that unintentionally create greater cost burdens for non-solar producing residents. Not so in South Carolina – at least, not any more. The Energy System Freedom of Ownership Act is a more sustainable policy developed to benefit and ensure fairness and equity to all energy consumers, especially those on low or fixed incomes.
My colleagues and I focused on the varying stakeholder interests at play in increasing solar use in South Carolina, and we developed a bill that outlines a “win” for everybody. Though compromise often means that everyone involved may not receive everything he/she wants, it also means that all interested parties walk away with something.
Compromise is not now, nor has it ever been, a bad word. But politically speaking, it is something that, increasingly, elected officials at all levels have begun to shy away from. It takes real courage to buck that trend, dig your heels in, and affirm that policies that take into account all relevant interests at stake – both consumer and corporate – are those policies that best ensure that maximum social and economic opportunities can be realized.
I applaud the state Legislature and the various stakeholders for bringing forth a new opportunity for South Carolinians to participate in the evolving solar energy sector.
I am hopeful that our law is the example that will be replicated nationwide as we tackle America’s all-in energy strategy this year and in years to come.