Archive for May, 2012

  • US Energy Independence and SC Solar Job Creation

    “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”- Wayne Gretzky

    South Carolina must position herself where the puck is going to be.  As a native South Carolinian, the closest I ever got to hockey was playing street hockey with friends at the old basketball court in Hollywood Park, but I think we all understand the wisdom of Gretzky’s quote.  Whether by a state or federal renewable portfolio standard or an aspirational renewable energy goal, as South Carolinians the day is coming where a growing portion of our power will be from renewable sources.  We will either buy energy from renewable sources generated outside SC and support jobs in other states or SC will move to where the puck is going to be by ensuring a competitive environment for solar power and thereby attract our share of the $15 billion dollar industry.

    Our neighbor to the north, North Carolina provides a great example of what a State can do listening to the wisdom of Mr. Gretzky as applicable to the solar industry.  NC has provided for a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and a competitive tax structure for solar energy development.  As a result, NC now has 247 solar install companies and 59 solar manufacturers.  Among those companies is Argand Energy (www.ArgandEnergy.com), who closed its operations previously located here in Columbia and moved to NC where they have been recently named #8 of the Charlotte “Fast 50,” the fastest growing companies in the region.  In 2009, revenue from renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in NC reached $3.5 billion and 10,250 jobs.  Yet, NC gets less solar irradiance than SC and still NC gets 43% more output per megawatt installed than Berlin, Germany, which is the world leader in solar installs.  It is past time that SC position herself to keep and attract companies like Argand and keep those jobs here.

    Over the past year, I worked to draft, introduce and pass the House legislation that would make South Carolina more competitive in the solar market for businesses and residents.  As an author and co-sponsor of H3346, currently pending in the Senate the bill would simply place SC on equal footing with our neighbors to the north and south.  (Full text of H3346)  In our laser fast moving globalized world, it is not just about competing in our region, China has invested more than three times the $15 billion total US Solar industry in its pursuit of solar power dominance.  United Arab Emirates, home of to 8% of proven global crude oil reserves, one of the 10 largest oil companies in the world; and enough hydrocarbon reserves at current production levels to last 100 years, has invested $20 billion in Masdar City www.Masdar.ae.  UAE understands the power of energy independence despite its huge fossil fuel resources.  SC and our Nation must move to a diverse and decentralized power base, increasing our energy independence from foreign fossil fuel and strengthening our Nation.  Passage of H3346 gives SC the chance to compete against our neighbors and play an important role in US energy independence.

    To find out more check out the Solar Business Alliance website: www.SolarBusinessAlliance.com.  This is one of the many efforts I plan to continue to support public education, access to quality healthcare and economic development in South Carolina.  I am grateful for the privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and I will continue to work hard each day to merit your trust.  I can be reached directly by email or phone 803-933-9800 or the web www.JamesSmith.com.

    My very best to you and yours for a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful Summer 2012.