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The Clean Energy Access Act 2019 is designed to streamline the solar industry in South Carolina, while also protecting homeowners from unfair business practices. The bill will be debated in the upcoming session in the SC legislature.

A new bill introduced to the S.C. legislature would potentially expand the solar power industry in the state and provide protections to homeowners who use solar panels.

The Clean Energy Access Act 2019 is sponsored by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, and has the backing of businesses and advocates in the solar industry, such as the Solar Energy Industry Association.

“We developed this bill because the energy market in South Carolina needs to be modernized," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the SEIA in a press release. “This legislation will lead to lower electric bills for consumers and many new jobs. South Carolinians deserve the economic benefits that an expanded clean energy portfolio will provide the state."

The bill aims to streamline large-scale solar programs, allow fair market access to the industry and establish a consumer bill of rights that would protect homeowners who use solar energy, among other things.

Part of the consumer bill of rights listed in the proposed bill includes that "energy rates must be transparent, easy to understand and control, and any increase in fixed charges must be proportional to increase in overall rate."

A neighborhood community solar program would be established by the bill, which aims to expand solar energy access to customers of lower income by allowing them to subscribe to a portion of output from a large-scale solar facility. 

South Carolina is the 18th "biggest solar state," according to the press release. The industry employs around 2,900 people currently. 

The bill we be debated in the S.C. legislature in the upcoming session.

To read more about the Clean Energy Access Act 2019, visit seia.org.

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.