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COMMENTARY: Conservatives to promote Solar in South Carolina

America is entering an exciting time. After the election of a new President, the American people sent a message that now is the time to tackle challenges head on. For our state and country, energy independence is one of these challenges.

America should be free from the reigns of countries that oppose what America stands for and as an American and as a conservative, I believe in using new technology and an “all the above” approach to accomplish energy independence. Here in South Carolina, we are using solar energy as a tool to help accomplish this goal.

In 2014, South Carolina’s Legislature unanimously passed, and Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law, common sense solar energy policy — including net metering — that created hundreds of good jobs in just one year. Net metering is a policy that provides consumers with fair credit for the power they generate and send to their neighbors. The law has also enabled customers to lease solar systems as opposed to buying them outright and removing the up-front investment cost that makes solar affordable and available to all.

Thanks to Gov. Haley and leaders in the Statehouse, South Carolina has become a state on the move when it comes to giving people the chance to produce their own power and to protect our God-given natural resources. The people of the Palmetto State are remarkable. Folks across the country are looking to us as the model of job creation and a free-market approach to renewable energy.

Our state needs to continue to lead on this issue and push for the removal of any barriers that prevent solar businesses from growing here in South Carolina.

Working with partners from across the state, we have created the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition to work to provide solutions to critical issues facing utilities and solar companies in South Carolina.

We will address a wide range of issues including making sure homeowners are not taxed at a higher rate because they choose to go solar while also working with businesses and utilities to continue South Carolina’s net metering policy. Please take a moment to visit our website, and help us send this message.

When you factor in all of the positive advances, South Carolina has quickly become the second-highest-ranking state in the country for solar job growth. We look forward to reaching out and speaking with others who care about lowering power bills, achieving energy independence, creating more jobs and preserving God’s greatest natural gifts for future South Carolina families. Now is the time for us to act.

Former Congressman Gresham Barrett formed the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition earlier this month. He represented the 3rd Congressional District of South Carolina from 2003 until 2011. He also served six years in the SC House of Representatives.

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