SEIA promotes bill to revamp South Carolina’s outdated energy market rules

The solar industry is urging South Carolina’s Legislature to pass a broad new bill that would reform the state’s energy market, creating jobs, expanding solar deployment and lowering some of the highest home energy bills in the U.S. “We developed this bill because the energy market in South Carolina needs to be modernized," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This legislation will lead to lower electric bills for consumers and many new jobs. South Carolinians deserve the economic benefits that an expanded clean energy portfolio will provide the state. We urge the Legislature to pass this bill in the upcom-ing session.” If approved, this legislation (Senate Bill 332 - sponsored by Senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort) would: • Require the Public Service Commission to initiate a new proceeding to review and approve rates and terms provided to large-scale solar facilities, streamlining the process and ensuring contract terms are reasonable for such projects • Allow large energy consumers, such as industrial manufacturers, to contract directly with a renewa-ble energy supplier to more easily realize savings from solar • Remove arbitrary caps on home solar projects • Establish a “Consumer Bill of Rights” to protect energy consumers from discriminatory charges, en-suring that energy rates are fair and transparent • Establish a neighborhood community solar program designed to expand solar access to low-income customers “South Carolinians have made it clear that they want more solar energy freedom,” said Matt Moore, Chair-man of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition. “As we look towards our state’s energy future, this legisla-tion enables more independently funded, affordable, clean energy solutions, like rooftop solar, and will protect the thousands of jobs that come with it.” "More competition in the energy sector drives down energy costs, reduces bills for ratepayers, and creates jobs and investments in South Carolina,” said Steffanie Dohn, Director of Government Relations for the SC So-lar Business Alliance. “By passing this legislation, lawmakers can help ratepayers, create jobs and continue to grow our economy - a win-win-win." Solar energy use has soared in the state over the past two years as solar generation has become more com-petitive with traditional resources. South Carolina now has more than 616 megawatts of solar capacity, mak-ing it the 18th biggest solar state. The state added 1,000 solar jobs in 2016, and the industry now employs nearly 2,900 workers. However, solar installations and jobs have slowed in 2018. This bill will make solar more accessible to homes and businesses, spurring its growth.

The solar industry has had its sights set on South Carolina since the ball dropped. There was this broad coalition urging action within the first 100 days of 2019, and now SEIA is following up, urging South Carolina’s Legislature to pass Senate Bill 332 (sponsored by Senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort) that would reform the state’s energy market.

“We developed this bill because the energy market in South Carolina needs to be modernized,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This legislation will lead to lower electric bills for consumers and many new jobs. South Carolinians deserve the economic benefits that an expanded clean energy portfolio will provide the state. We urge the Legislature to pass this bill in the upcoming session.”

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If approved, it would …

• Require the Public Service Commission to initiate a new proceeding to review and approve rates and terms provided to large-scale solar facilities, streamlining the process and ensuring contract terms are reasonable for such projects
• Allow large energy consumers, such as industrial manufacturers, to contract directly with a renewable energy supplier to more easily realize savings from solar
• Remove arbitrary caps on home solar projects
• Establish a “Consumer Bill of Rights” to protect energy consumers from discriminatory charges, ensuring that energy rates are fair and transparent
• Establish a neighborhood community solar program designed to expand solar access to low-income customers

More details on the Clean Energy Access Act here.

“South Carolinians have made it clear that they want more solar energy freedom,” said Matt Moore, Chairman of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition. “As we look towards our state’s energy future, this legislation enables more independently funded, affordable, clean energy solutions, like rooftop solar, and will protect the thousands of jobs that come with it.”

“More competition in the energy sector drives down energy costs, reduces bills for ratepayers, and creates jobs and investments in South Carolina,” said Steffanie Dohn, Director of Government Relations for the SC Solar Business Alliance. “By passing this legislation, lawmakers can help ratepayers, create jobs and continue to grow our economy – a win-win-win.”

Solar energy use has soared in the state over the past two years as solar generation has become more competitive with traditional resources. South Carolina now has more than 616 megawatts of solar capacity, making it the 18th biggest solar state. The state added 1,000 solar jobs in 2016, and the industry now employs nearly 2,900 workers. However, solar installations and jobs have slowed in 2018. This bill will make solar more accessible to homes and businesses, spurring its growth.

— Solar Builder magazine

SEIA joins in Day of Understanding as part of its diversity, inclusion mission

SEIA

The Solar Energy Industries Association is one of more than 150 organizations participating in the “Day of Understanding” hosted by CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion to address bias and increase understanding in the workplace and beyond. SEIA will engage its employees in an open conversation about key issues surrounding race, gender and sexuality in order to drive greater understanding and appreciation of differences.

“Improving the diversity of the solar industry is one of my top priorities and I know to succeed I must start with my own organization,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “This is precisely why I signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge. I’ve committed to making SEIA a space to have these complex conversations. Today, we’re implementing unconscious bias education and learning best practices and challenges. While I’m intensely proud of the progress we’re making, I recognize that we still have a long way to go. This marks one step on the path to a more inclusive organization and industry.”

Under Hopper’s leadership, SEIA announced a new effort with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to increase the solar industry’s recruitment of African-American students and is partnering with the NAACP on the Solar Equity Initiative, a year-long commitment to provide more than 30 communities of color and low-income communities with solar energy infrastructure and job skills training.

SEIA has also developed a best practices guide to give the industry a roadmap for promoting diversity, created the Women’s Empowerment Initiative, which includes summits to increase women’s leadership and various industry opportunities, and in 2019 is launching a webinar series on diversity and inclusion for its member companies.

For more information on the Day of Understanding and how you can get involved by signing the “I Act On” pledge, head here.

— Solar Builder magazine

A ton of solar companies are set to blitz Capitol Hill today to educate, advocate

capitol hill

Led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), today nearly 70 solar companies are visiting the offices of more than 100 members of Congress in an educational advocacy blitz called Solar Shines on the Hill Day.

Solar workers from across the nation will be meeting with members of Congress and their staffs to educate them on the significant growth of the solar industry, corresponding jobs in their districts and states, and the industry’s policy priorities.

One of SEIA’s top federal policy priorities is for Congress to modify the tax code to include energy storage as an eligible technology for the investment tax credit. SEIA’s Solar Shines on the Hill Day builds on the advocacy efforts from this summer when SEIA met with members of the U.S. House of Representatives from the top 100 solar congressional districts.

“There is nothing more powerful than a face-to-face meeting to share with policymakers stories about the value of solar energy to their jurisdictions,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “We know that solar energy enjoys broad bipartisan support, but additional education and awareness is always impactful. We will be talking about jobs, economic growth and what we are doing to accelerate solar deployment, enable healthy competition and provide Americans with the affordable, reliable, clean energy that they deserve.”

“Solar and storage jobs aren’t Republican jobs or Democratic jobs–they’re American jobs,” said Ilan Gutherz, Sr. Director of Policy and Strategy for Borrego Solar. “On behalf of our hundreds of employees and thousands of customers across the U.S., we look forward to joining our colleagues in advocating for the thousands of additional clean energy jobs that could be created with the right support for emerging energy storage technologies.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar Energy Industries Association solidifies Puerto Rico solar, storage association as official affiliate

SEIA

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced that the Solar & Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico (SESA-PR) is now an official SEIA affiliate.

“This partnership was a natural outgrowth following the solar industry’s response to last year’s devastating hurricanes,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “By working together under one umbrella, we will be better able to coordinate resources and promote the vibrant growth of Puerto Rico’s solar market.”

“We formed SESA-PR to unite the solar industry’s disaster response efforts following Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said SESA-PR’s Founder and President, PJ Wilson. “With SEIA’s national resources and our on-the-ground efforts, the Puerto Rico solar and storage markets are poised for rapid growth. SESA-PR works to ensure there’s effective public policy, jobs training and financing mechanisms in place to facilitate the ramp-up needed for rooftop, commercial, and utility scale solar installations.”

Today, according to the EIA, Puerto Rico is home to 278 megawatts (MW) of operating or soon-to-be operating solar capacity, approximately 1 percent of the island’s electric generation.

Puerto Rico lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would commit Puerto Rico to getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. The Puerto Rico Department of Housing is also requesting $400 million from the federal government to aid the growth of residential and small commercial solar systems with battery storage.

— Solar Builder magazine

SEIA urges Congress to add storage to ITC eligibility this year

SEIA

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), alongside a broad coalition of energy trade and advocacy organizations, filed a letter urging Congress to modify the tax code to include energy storage as an eligible technology for the investment tax credit (ITC).

Following is a statement on the effort from SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper:

“As our letter to Senate and House leadership details, energy storage systems are critically important to the modernization of America’s electric grid and represent a massive opportunity for clean energy, particularly solar power. In the energy world, you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of two technologies that complement each other as well as solar plus storage.

“Yet without clear rules of the road, companies continue to face financial uncertainty in their investments. Inclusion in the ITC is a crucial step if we’re going to harness storage’s full potential. SEIA, alongside our partner organizations, is urging Congress to enact the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act, a common-sense bill that will encourage investment, jobs and accelerated deployment of solar plus storage projects.”

— Solar Builder magazine