When late summer temps arrive in South Carolina, most energy consumers care a lot more about having access to electricity than to how it is being or where it actually comes from. However, it’s important for all residents to recognize the benefits that are being realized as a result of clean energy leadership in the Palmetto State.
After a long, hard-fought effort that was years in the making, the state legislature passed the Energy Freedom Act in May. The aptly named bill provided both the freedom for homeowners to contribute to the grid’s electricity supply, as well as for private sector companies to develop larger-scale energy projects to play on a level playing field in a state where utilities reigned supreme.
The legislation, which passed the Republican-led legislature unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster, rightfully expanded the market for rooftop solar energy production by abolishing the anti-growth two percent net-metering cap, which served as an arbitrary and unnecessary ceiling on the ability to mass-produce solar power. Now solar customers across the state will be compensated for the sun energy they produce and return to the state’s power grid. The end result will be a reduction in energy emissions, less reliance on outdated methods of energy production, an increase in domestic sourcing and further incentivization for property owners to add solar panels to their roofs.
The Energy Freedom Act also places consumers and taxpayers first by injecting free market competition into the energy marketplace, allowing solar energy to compete with utility companies. South Carolina currently has more than 18,000 operating solar systems and expects to add 22,000 during the next five years.
These Republican-led, commonsense approaches toward clean energy revitalization and development are exactly the kind of solutions that voters in S.C. — and across America — are looking for from elected leaders in the federal government. It’s not enough to merely cast aside the “Green New Deal” as fantasy. Polling from Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum clearly indicates that voters want Republicans to counter Green New Deal policies that increase taxes in the name of wealth redistribution with their own solutions.
Seven-in-ten voters agree Republicans in Congress should present their own set of solutions to reduce carbon emissions. Republicans (68 percent), Independents (69 percent) and Democrats (73 percent) are in agreement that GOP members of Congress should present their own plan. To put it more succinctly, it’s not enough to just be against something. You have to tell your constituents of what you are in favor.
Polling also indicates that Republicans must be attuned to the long-term challenges associated with climate change. Just last week in front of Congress, noted Republican pollster and focus group expert Frank Luntz that said 58 percent of GOP voters younger than 40 are more concerned about climate change than they were a year ago. This notion is buttressed by a survey by Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum from July in which 80 percent of GOP millennial voters called upon the government to take the lead in accelerating the growth of clean energy so that America can be a world leader.
America doesn’t require a “Green New Deal” like the one self-described “Democratic socialists” are pushing in Washington to upgrade and advance clean energy production. They just need a little common sense and the will to see it through. The proof is already in the panels.
Heather Reams is executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit that advocates in support clean energy development.