BY SAMMY FRETWELL
COLUMBIA SC — South Carolina took what was considered a historic step Wednesday to change the state’s long-time resistance to solar power.
The state House of Representatives voted 105-0 for a solar energy bill that is forecast to make sun-generated electricity more abundant in the Palmetto State. The compromise bill has support from South Carolina’s influential utilities and conservation groups, and a similar version of the measure has passed the Senate.
Solar energy supporters said the legislation will move the state out of the dark ages in its stance toward renewable power after years of dependence almost entirely on coal, nuclear and natural gas.
“This is truly a big deal, a giant step in moving South Carolina forward in renewable energy,” state Rep. Robert Brown, D-Charleston, said.
The bill doesn’t resolve what sun power boosters say are all of the state’s solar challenges. Nor does it answer questions about how it might ultimately affect the utility rates for all power company customers, several legislators said.
But many said the bill is a good start and a good compromise after two years of sometimes heated negotiations involving utilities, environmental groups, solar industry advocates and others.