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Coalition calls for energy policies to benefit environment, people

Energy
Travis Boland
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While nearly 100 people voiced their displeasure with proposed offshore drilling and testing on the steps of the Statehouse this week, another rally concerning energy took place inside.

A coalition led by Florence-headquartered New Alpha Community Development Corp., the Sierra Club and the Dogwood Alliance urged elected leaders to support legislation to advance a transition to clean energy and protect customers from costly projects such as the failed V.C. Summer nuclear reactors.

Leading the charge on Tuesday was Rev. Leo Woodberry, executive director of New Alpha Community. Woodberry said the rally provided a chance for all people to be represented when it comes to energy projects.

“Our main focus is to have legislators hear the voice of the people. Rarely do constituents get the chance to recalculate how we are going to get our energy,” Woodberry said. “We don’t want the citizens have to pay millions again for the wrong choices.”

Woodberry said the coalition’s goal is to find equitable solutions that benefit the environment, promote healthy communities, create jobs and bring in new businesses.

Many in the group touted a bill (H.4421) passed by the House in early January being called the S.C. Electric Consumer Bill of Rights that would remove barriers to large-scale solar outlays in the state.

The bill would: 

  • Remove cap to enter the market place put in place by Act 236, or the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act, adopted in 2014
  • Allow third-party sales
  • Prevent owners of onsite distributed energy resources from being considered utilities
  • Remove the cap on net metering
  • Bar any deed restriction, covenant, homeowners’ association document or similar binding agreement which would prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, the installation and utilization of an onsite distributed energy resource facility

“South Carolina communities want a clean, renewable energy future that truly works for them,” said Jodie Van Horn, director of the Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 campaign. “(The) campaign looks forward to supporting our partners in communities across South Carolina as they bring forward this vision of a just and equitable transition to 100% clean energy for all people.” 

Woodberry said that as solar technology continues to improve, it will balance out the initial cost of the 30% tariffs levied against imported solar panels last month. “It’s nowhere near the cost of what a pipeline would be,” he said.

Michael Malcom of S.C. Interfaith Power and Light, a group that promotes cooperation among people of faith to address climate change, also spoke at the rally.  

As a faith leader, I know that protecting the health of our planet as well as our people is not only a responsibility we have to our environment, it is a moral obligation we have to one another,” Malcom said. “By supporting a just transition to clean energy across our state, we can advance the cause of climate justice for all people living in South Carolina.”

Reach Travis Boland at colanews@scbiznews.com.

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