Opinion: PSC thumbs its nose at lawmakers, ratepayers


In May of 2019, Gov. Henry McMaster and the entire South Carolina Legislature unanimously approved the Energy Freedom Act, which paved the way for solar energy expansion in South Carolina. The law required utilities to explore investments in solar energy and required the Public Service Commission, whose job is to protect ratepayers, to set the rates for solar energy for the utility companies.

In November, the PSC voted for a 33% reduction in payments that utilities make to large-scale solar producers, and they voted to limit contracts with solar producers to 10 years, despite evidence that 15-20 year contracts are crucial for solar development. This combination of low payments and short contracts will stifle the solar industry in South Carolina for the next two years.

South Carolina is far behind our neighboring states, North Carolina and Georgia, in terms of solar investment, and we have higher monthly bills as well. The Energy Freedom Act promised ratepayers a more competitive energy marketplace with lower monthly bills and more consumer choices and protections. The state Legislature and the governor wanted this for the residents of South Carolina, but the PSC showed, once again, that they are beholden to the utility companies of this state and not the ratepayers, who they are mandated to protect.

There is still hope though! Four members of the PSC are up for reelection early next year. Each member is elected by the state Legislature. Contact your local elected officials and let them know that you want to see change and accountability at the PSC.