South Carolina must seek more clean and diverse energy sources

March 3, 2019

South Carolina’s recent headlines tell a frustrating story about energy. The state has weathered the nuclear debacle at V.C. Summer, dangerous handling of coal ash, and unfortunately, some of the highest power rates in the country.

The underlying theme of these issues is the lack of energy freedom in our state.

The aforementioned headlines are proof positive that the way our state produces energy must change. South Carolinians deserve more access to free market-driven, clean, renewable and efficient power that will allow us to become more energy independent while reducing the cost burden on families and businesses—without sacrificing reliability.

That is why we have formed a new group of conservative activists and leaders to make the case for more clean energy development in South Carolina. Conservatives for Clean Energy-SC will work hard to educate state policymakers and others on the economic, security, and environmental benefits of a diversified energy portfolio that emphasizes renewable energy.

In the past, it might have seemed unusual to see conservatives advocating for clean energy, but not today. Energy must no longer be treated as a partisan issue. The abundance, reliability, and affordability of energy affect all South Carolinians.

As conservatives, we believe that God created the world for His glory and that we must steward it for future generations. And as innovation and new technology make the once impossible possible, we need to change our preconceived notions about the future of the energy landscape.

We also support the United States achieving energy independence and we believe expanding the number of clean energy alternatives will allow us to get there. Our national security demands that we don’t just sit idly by and let our enemies dictate future energy policy to us. Instead, we must forge ahead and power our own homegrown, clean energy economy.That message is inherently conservative.

We know that renewable energy can drive job creationand economic development, and weare seeing states across the Southeast and the country reaping the benefits of sustainable and cost-effective clean energy development. It’s time South Carolina reaps these benefits too.

If we really want to be energy independent, we need a diverse and clean all-of-the-above energy portfolio that includes sources like solar, wind, clean bio-fuel, and hydro in addition to nuclear and natural gas.

We know these clean energy alternatives are already widely supported by South Carolinians across age, race, gender, and political party lines, and we recognize that our citizens want to see more, not less, clean energy choices in the future.

The V.C. Summer debacle cost 5,000 South Carolinians their jobs and left our state’s ratepayers with billions in debt. Conservatives for Clean Energy believe there is a better way which will require policymakers and leaders to actively help power our clean energy future with conservative, free-market principles in mind.

Thankfully, there’s some recent good news to share. In 2014, the S.C. General Assembly passed, and Governor Nikki Haley signed into law Act 236. The bill gave solar consumers the right to net meter (to get paid for the extra energy their solar panels produce)and affordably lease solar systems. For the first time, our state’s citizens could actually use homegrown, rooftop solar energy.

Act 236 also created a gold rush of solar jobs in South Carolina, allowing the state to add over 3,000 jobs almost overnight. Million-dollar solar farms are popping up all over the state. Maybe most importantly, Act 236 brought homegrown energy to the forefront of peoples’ minds. Those who oppose locally produced clean energy can’t put that genie back in the bottle.

It makes economic and common sense for us to now explore even more sources of renewable energy. Bio-diesel, for example, repurposes used cooking oil from local restaurants and turns it into a clean diesel that can fuel cars and trucks. South Carolina has an abundance of wind, and offshore wind farms could begin to produce energy for our growing state, while creating more jobs and bringing in significant economic investment.

The bottom line is that we can champion energy progress and do so in a way that is faithful to our conservative pro-free market principles. Conservatives wholeheartedly support more energy competition and choice, but these two ingredients have been missing from our state’s ongoing energy discussion. Conservatives for Clean Energy will help highlight these issues and others.

Underlying the clean energy renaissance in this country is energy freedom—freedom to produce, sell, and consume homegrown energy that is clean, reliable, and affordable. South Carolina’s fledgling clean energy economy is just getting started, and with more energy freedom, we can reap the benefits of innovation, good-paying local jobs, and lower electricity rates for all. We hope you will join us.

-CCE SC Advisory Board