In 2016, the state of South Carolina became the 3rd in the country to pass a law requiring that all new buildings be constructed using at least 50% solar power. The law took effect in January of this year and, as a result, renewable energy sources such as solar power have become much more abundant and affordable for commercial entities and homeowners alike. It wasn’t long before large energy companies, such as Dominion Energy and Public Service Enterprise, saw this as an attractive market and began offering residential and commercial solar power plans at heavily discounted rates. This motivated the state to establish community solar projects, where residents can group together and purchase a portion of the power generated by a large solar farm, reducing their dependence on traditional power companies.
Positive Impact on Jobs
One of the most significant advantages of the state’s new solar power law is its positive impact on jobs. Prior to the law passing, the state’s solar industry employed less than 100 people. Today, that number is expected to reach around 3,600, a 280% increase. According to proponents of the law, by 2022 there will be more than 10,000 jobs in the state’s solar industry, more than enough to meet the demand.
Since the inception of the new law, more than 130 groups have formed and registered with the state, interested in establishing community solar projects. Applicants are required to submit a proposal to the South Carolina Solar Center, which will then review the plan and offer suggestions on how to improve it. When completed, community solar projects can provide a renewable energy option that doesn’t cost an individual or business much money. In the long run, it’s expected that this type of alternative energy option will cost less than traditional sources.
Another significant advantage of going solar is the law’s effect on making electricity more affordable for the state’s residents. The cost of electricity in South Carolina is increasing at an average rate of 5% per year. Due to this dramatic uptick, the law is providing a crucial service by keeping rates low for homeowners and small businesses.
According to a September 2022 report by the United States Energy Association, the cost of solar power has decreased by 64% in the past year alone. Largely due to the decrease in price, more Americans than ever are now being encouraged to generate their own electricity with rooftop solar power systems and to invest in green, renewable electricity resources, such as solar power.
Since the new solar power law took effect, hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings have already been accrued by South Carolina residents, with more expected to come in the near future. For example, a resident of the state will soon be able to purchase a solar power system for less than $5,000, compared to the $14,000+ that it would cost them to purchase electricity from a traditional power company. Furthermore, with the state’s electricity costs at an all-time low, many businesses are considering the option of switching to a renewable energy supplier.
Another significant advantage of going solar is that the power it generates is more available when you need it. The new South Carolina solar law allows homeowners and businesses to generate their own electricity with a rooftop solar power system. It does this by waiving certain requirements and permitting procedures that often get in the way of individuals and small businesses trying to generate their own electricity. In the future, it’s expected that more and more people will be able to generate their own electricity, reducing their reliance on traditional power companies and increasing their independence.
According to the United States Energy Association, the amount of electricity that can be generated by a solar rooftop system is unpredictable. But it is generally accepted that photovoltaic solar panels can generate up to 10 – 20% of their rated capacity when placed in the right conditions. The more light that strikes the solar panels, the more electricity that can be generated. This explains why direct exposure to the sun is typically advised for optimal results.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of going solar is that it provides a way for individuals and businesses to become more energy independent. With the exception of some large companies and government agencies, most companies and individual residences are not currently able to generate their own electricity because traditional power companies have imposed onerous fees and increased rates. Going solar is giving these individuals and businesses the chance to be more independent and to have access to an abundant and affordable energy source that is good for the environment.
For years, power companies have enjoyed a comfortable monopoly over electricity generation and distribution in the state, wielding effective control over pricing, fees, and the quality of the energy. But times are changing and more and more people are discovering the benefits of going solar. According to the United States Energy Association, electricity generated by rooftop solar panels is expected to account for 7% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2040.
With the help of the State of South Carolina, the country’s 3rd largest solar state, the world’s 4th largest solar power market is finally poised to become a reality.
In 2022, more people are expected to choose renewable energy sources than ever before, creating a monumental demand for new projects, suppliers and platforms. Going solar is providing a needed boost to the renewable energy industry and creating thousands of new jobs across the country. It’s also providing a needed service to the residents of South Carolina, keeping electricity rates low and reliable while also reducing the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and preventing the possible harms that come with them. We cannot underestimate the positive impact that going solar has had and will continue to have on our world.