SC utility interests stop solar meeting via The State


Solar energy is growing in interest because making power from the sun can lower power bills for homeowners, schools and businesses. Since solar panels produce energy for free, less power is needed from electrical utilities. Solar panels also do not release any pollution or toxic waste, unlike coal and nuclear plants.

Despite that, restrictive rules that protect utilities make it harder in South Carolina for people, schools and businesses to afford solar panels. And those that do install panels also can run into problems.

Furman University, for instance, has reached a state limit of 100 kilowatts on solar energy capacity by businesses and schools – and that limits the university’s ability to add sun panels to help heat and light its Greenville campus.

About two dozen states have substantially less restrictive caps than South Carolina, including Florida and North Carolina, national reports have found.

“We were hoping that the meeting would take place, so discussion could occur,” said Jeff Redderson, Furman’s associate vice president for facility and campus services.

The PSC has authority to raise the cap that is limiting Furman and starting to affect some businesses. That’s why solar advocates said it’s important for the commission to hear about the issues.

Critics say power companies see solar as a threat to their profits and blocking the PSC meeting reflects that concern.

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