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Renewables Can Lead the Way to Economic Success and Energy Independence

CRBJ Biz Wire //April 13, 2023//

Renewables Can Lead the Way to Economic Success and Energy Independence

CRBJ Biz Wire //April 13, 2023//

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The economy has certainly taken its toll on South Carolinian’s pocketbooks over the last year. At the grocery store, at the gas pump, and everywhere in between, Palmetto State residents can’t seem to catch a break from inflation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the worst is over. Now, increased electricity rates are looming over South Carolinians – who already face some of the highest electricity bills in the nation.

Beginning this month and continuing through April, electric bills for South Carolina Dominion Energy residential customers will increase by roughly 6%. Midyear rate increases are unusual, but the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SCPSC) voted 5-1 to approve the increases in December 2022. The reason for these increases? Higher-than-projected costs for coal and natural gas.

Mid-year rate increase requests are the result of utilities being far too reliant on fossil fuels. Of course, when rates were set last year, utilities and state regulators did their due diligence and set them based on predicted trends for the fossil fuel market.
Their predictions ended up being far from accurate. It happens. But it’s also possible to prevent the need to increase customer bills, even while fossil fuel costs continue to rise.

For example, renewable energy can used to help control for some of the unexpected volatility in fossil fuel prices. Diversifying our energy mix by investing in new sources of energy– like wind, solar, storage, and efficiency – can help protect ratepayers from paying higher rates during times of market volatility.

Additionally, renewables are not affected by the same supply-and-demand constraints as fossil fuels. This increased flexibility can help ensure that America remains energy independent and is not reliant on tenuous diplomatic relationships for our energy fuel. As we have seen throughout the Russia-Ukraine conflict, dependency on other nations for energy fuel is becoming more and more a national security issue with serious implications for the American economy and our ability to power critical infrastructure.

Moreover, the rapid rise in electric vehicle production, investment, and economic development opportunities in South Carolina should be another motivating factor to create energy choice and competition.

With billions of dollars in private capital flowing into the Palmetto State to manufacture electric vehicles, batteries, and develop new electric vehicle technologies, thanks in part to forward- thinking leaders like U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and his efforts to pass critical legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, South Carolina has an opportunity to lead the Southeast in offering clean energy options to power these new manufacturing facilities. Getting ahead of demand can provide a competitive edge and position South Carolina to continue to recruit billion-dollar investments over neighboring states, creating new jobs and increased wages.

Forging these clean energy advancements for an unreliable power grid dependent on fossil fuels could pump the brakes on the Palmetto State’s economy.

South Carolina has established itself as a manufacturing powerhouse with global corporations like Boeing, Volvo, Bosch, BMW, and others locating operations from the Upstate to the PeeDee to the Lowcountry. As major employers continue to move towards a carbon-neutral business model, South Carolina will need to add more renewables to our grid to support the business community’s transition to clean energy. Luckily, the Palmetto State stands well positioned to do just that with many new solar farms, storage facilities, and potential offshore wind energy projects in the planning or development stages.

To ensure we continue to protect South Carolina’s ratepayers, economy, and competitiveness, we must continue to search for, capitalize on, and publicly commend investments in renewable energy. Without them, South Carolina’s future generations will not experience the same prosperity we have been blessed to see during our lifetimes.

We owe it to future generations to work towards a clean energy future.