South Carolina legislators made the right call last week by giving the greenlight to solar energy in our state.

In a vote that some referred to as historic, the S.C. House of Representatives unanimously voted for a bill that would make it much easier for residents and businesses to invest in renewable solar energy. The compromise bill has received bipartisan support, and garnered approval from South Carolina’s utilities and conservation groups, which don’t always see eye-to-eye.

By expanding opportunities for solar energy, South Carolina can attract businesses from around the world, protect the environment and lower energy costs for homeowners. It’s a win-win for our state.

It also brings South Carolina in line with other states in the South that allow easier expansion of solar power, North Carolina, for instance, is home to about 500 solar firms and employs an estimated 1,985 workers in the solar arena, according to the Coastal Conservation League. Those are jobs that South Carolina largely couldn’t benefit from in the past because of tighter restrictions on solar energy.

The bill – S.1189 – includes greater solar leasing options, and will make solar available to residential, business and non-profit customers in an affordable way.

If passed, South Carolina should be able to have greater competitiveness in the renewable energy marketplace since the proposal wisely raises South Carolina’s restrictive cap on the use of solar power. The cap would be 1 megawatt if the proposal is signed into law, instead of the current 100 kilowatt limit for nonresidential solar energy.

While electricity rates have risen, the cost of installing solar has declined – making solar energy an increasingly attractive possibility for homeowners.

This vote by the legislature is a positive step forward because it can stimulate job growth that other states have capitalized on, and will ultimately put money back in the pockets of consumers by lowering utility bills.