Yesterday the House Public Utilities Subcommittee received a new draft of H.3659, the “South Carolina Energy Freedom Act”. The Subcommittee decided to finish the new language in the draft and hopes to vote it out next week and have it immediately taken up by the full LCI Committee also next week.
A review of the original H.3659 is below.
There are 2 key takeaways from the proposed new draft of the bill (New H.3659 uncompleted draft).
- There would be a temporary removal of caps on net metering until 2020. So, customers who apply to their utility before June 1, 2021 can participate in the utility’s program until 2029. However, in 2020 the PSC is to approve new net metering programs for the utilities that will take effect for applications after June 1, 2020.
- All other decisions addressing the proposals in the original H.3659 will be handed off to the Public Service Commission.
Thanks to all who contacted the members of this subcommittee in support of H.3659. While neither the utilities nor the solar advocates were 100% happy with the new draft proposal, it does offer a path forward for a less controversial and difficult legislative fight while addressing the pressing net-metering issue.
The original H.3659:
The original bill would protect the rights of customers—residential and businesses—“to utilize energy cost-saving measures”. It would also prohibit utilities from actions that would target customers with higher costs for taking measures to reduce the amount of electricity they purchase from utilities. The bill also promoted net metering.
In addition, H.3659 also included the “Clean Energy Access Act” that prescribes that utilities purchase electricity from solar farms if the cost is less than the utility building a new generation facility. The bill also provided for neighborhood community solar facilities and enables low-income customers to affordably participate.