Voters support keeping SC’s roughly 3,000 solar jobs; Majority of voters would have less favorable impression of legislators who oppose a path forward for rooftop solar
As our state grapples with the current energy crisis surrounding SC Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper’s decision to shut down construction of two nuclear power plants in Fairfield County, a new poll conducted by The Tarrance Group and commissioned by the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition (PCSC) and The Alliance for Solar Choice found that more than two-thirds of voters believe South Carolina should rely more on solar energy to generate electric power, while substantially fewer voters believe that the state should become more reliant on sources like coal and nuclear power. Eight out of ten voters believe the state should rely on more or the same amount for solar energy.
“Solar energy has emerged as a clear favorite for future electricity generation in the minds of South Carolina voters,” said Dave Sackett, Founding Partner of The Tarrance Group. “South Carolinians have also demonstrated that they want more energy choice and better management of their funds with energy projects going forward.”
The poll found that 60% of voters across party lines would be more likely to have an unfavorable impression of their own state legislators should they oppose a path forward for rooftop solar. This is important considering the potential loss of around 3,000 solar industry jobs in South Carolina if the state were to hit the 2% solar net metering cap created in 2014. On the issue of nuclear power plants, the majority of voters surveyed also indicated that regulators and elected officials failed to provide proper oversight on the V.C. Summer project, and more than 80% believe customers should be reimbursed for the funds they contributed to the construction.
“We are facing an energy crisis in South Carolina,” said Gresham Barrett, PCSC founder and former U.S. Representative for South Carolina. “Our friends and neighbors have made it clear that they want more access to solar energy and that they will hold those policymakers accountable if they oppose this viewpoint. As we look towards our state’s energy future, let’s embrace independently funded, affordable, clean energy solutions like rooftop solar and grow the thousands of jobs that already come with it.”
Solar has proven to be a serious and steady economic growth driver for the state. In 2014, Act 236 paved the way for solar in South Carolina by allowing net metering and leasing, which led to the creation of close to 3,000 jobs in just a few years. However, these jobs are currently in danger.
The legislature put a 2% cap on the amount of energy that is allowed to come from net metered and leased solar power for each utility in South Carolina. Driven by strong consumer demand for rooftop solar, SCE&G and Duke are approaching these caps rapidly. If the caps are reached without a viable path forward, rooftop solar business could have to shut down. Our state would lose another 3,000 energy jobs on top of the more than 5,000 nuclear jobs already lost in Fairfield County.
A massive rooftop solar job loss in the state is entirely avoidable -- but we have to act now to chart a path forward. South Carolina must embrace free markets with energy and provide our consumers with choice. Now more than ever, homeowners need tools to control their own utility bills.
About the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition
The Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition (PCSC) is dedicated to promoting the removal of barriers to solar businesses and applying free market principles to help further energy independence with solar energy in South Carolina.
Click here to download the SC Energy Poll Presentation.
Click here to download the SC Energy Poll Memo.