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Bill to spark clean energy investment sails through Senate

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A bill aimed at attracting investment to South Carolina’s clean energy industry has been passed by the S.C. Senate.

The Senate voted 38-4 today to greenlight the Renewable Energy Economic Development Bill (S.44) and sent it to the House, where a companion measure (H.3079) resides in the Ways and Means Committee.

“S.44 promotes economic growth and creates the opportunity for numerous renewable energy jobs to South Carolina by lowering property tax hurdles on renewable energy developments in the state” Bret Sowers, chairman of the S.C. Solar Business Alliance, said in a news release.

The bill would allow land that’s currently unused or being used for agriculture to be used as a solar farm, creating tax revenue to the county that exceeds the current revenue, according to a release. The bill would exempt 80% of the fair market value of certain distributed energy resources and also exempt the value of renewable energy resource property for residential use.

If bill becomes law, South Carolina would be on similar footing with neighboring North Carolina and 28 other states that have enacted similar legislation.

In 2015, South Carolina saw $10 million invested in solar, compared with $311 million in Georgia and $1.69 billion in North Carolina, the release said. The alliance estimates that more than $1.4 billion could be invested in the state over the next few years with the passage of this legislation, allowing for more than $215 million in new property tax revenues for counties.

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