Online poll: State should promote solar energy

Union Daily Times
by Charles Warner
February 23, 2012
The State of South Carolina should use business tax credits to promote the growth of solar energy in the state according to the majority of the readers who participated in an online poll conducted by The Union Daily Times.
The Finance Committee of the SC Senate is currently considering House Bill 3346 which would provide tax credits of 35 percent for the installation of solar equipment on commercial buildings. The bill is supported by the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) as a means of stimulating economic development and job growth.
In a telephone interview with The Union Daily Times earlier this month, SCSBCC President Frank Knapp pointed out that passage of the bill would provide South Carolina with “a great opportunity to jump start a renewable energy industry” similar to what North Carolina has done. Knapp said North Carolina used tax credits to make solar equipment more affordable for businesses in the state. He said passage of House Bill 3346 would make South Carolina more attractive to the solar energy industry, promoting the growth of the state’s renewable energy sector including small businesses and even solar farms.
While South Carolina currently offers some residential solar tax credits it does not provide them for commercial facilities. Despite this, Knapp said some companies are already installing solar panels on their facilities to heat water and/or generate electricity. Among them is Boeing, which Knapp said has already installed solar panels on its new plant in North Charleston and the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia which has also installed solar panels on its building.
For many businesses, however, especially small ones, installation of solar equipment is not currently cost-effective without the kind of tax incentives that would be provided with the passage of House Bill 3346. Knapp said that with the tax credits, South Carolina would reap the economic benefits of increased revenue through economic development and job creation resulting from the growth of the solar energy industry.
In addition to the benefits of economic development and job creation, the SCSBCC website states that the growth of the solar energy industry would reduce the need for building expensive new energy producing plants. It would also help reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change which threatens South Carolina’s tourism and recreation industries.
Taken together, Knapp said this makes solar equipment credits for business a good investment for the state.

An overwhelming majority of those who participated in an online poll conducted last week by The Union Daily Times agreed.
The poll asked readers “Should the State of South Carolina use business tax credits to promote the growth of solar energy?”
A total of 50 votes were cast with 68 percent or 34 voting yes and 32 percent or 16 voting no.
Knapp welcomed the poll results as a sign of growing public support for the use of tax incentives to promote the growth of the solar power industry in South Carolina.
“This is very good news, we’re very happy that the readers of The Union Daily Times agree with the position that we need to offer financial incentives for commercial solar equipment to both create small business jobs and reduce our energy demands,” Knapp said Wednesday afternoon. “Alternative and renewable energy really is the future for South Carolina and the country and passage of this bill will put us on the road to that end.”

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