Furman University had a plan: install energy-producing solar panels, save money on power bills and help the environment. The idea was sound. There was just one big problem –South Carolina has state limits on solar products.
The school has reached the state limit and is unable to add any more solar products to heat and light the campus buildings. Solar energy expansion will become a huge problem for schools and businesses that want to cut pollution and use renewable energy sources.
South Carolina caps solar energy at 100 kilowatts for non-residential customers. The limits were put into place five years ago and many green energy advocates are voicing complaint about them. College’s like Furman who are vested in green initiatives are hitting a wall because of the State’s limits.
“We’re still able to do things, but we just can’t move forward with any future solar,” said Jeff Redderson, Furman’s associate vice president for facility and campus services. “At some point, that will become a real problem.”
According to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, two dozen states have caps on solar energy. Almost all of them are less restrictive than South Carolina. South Carolina isn’t doing well in the solar energy policy field. It has failed in two key categories– net-metering and interconnection rules– according to the 2013 Freeing the Grid report given to the state.
The biggest problem South Carolina is facing is that power companies are not ready to embrace solar expansion. The biggest reason is potential loss of revenue. If Furman University wants to push pass the state limit, it would need approval from the power company. The deal would almost certainly favor the power company rather than the college campus.
Furman University is a leader in sustainability. Redderson said, “We hope to become carbon neutral by 2026, but in order to do that, we would need to invest in a larger-scale renewable energy project.”
The only viable way for Furman to reach its goal is for the state to loosen up its solar energy policies.
Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. She writes about news, sustainability, green energy, food, celebrities and much more. Often she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and shedding a light on human rights violations all over the world.