Renewable Energy Economic Development and Jobs Act On HOLd until 2018

May 13, 2017

On May 2 a House Ways and Means Legislative Subcommittee received testimony on S.44a bill by Senators Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster) and Glenn Reese (D-Spartanburg) that would clarify property tax treatment for Distributed Energy Resource (DER) and renewable energy resource property in South Carolina, for more than 3 hours from solar investors, developers, a landowner, and other clean energy advocates. In spite of overwhelming support for the legislation, the Subcommittee Chaired by Brian White (R-Anderson) voted 3 to 1 to Adjourn Debate on the bill stalling the legislation for the year.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to travel to Columbia to express your support for S.44.  SCCEBA supports 80% property tax abatement for DER property and commercial-owned renewable energy resource property.

The Senate approved S.44 in a 38-4 vote on February 1.  S.44's companion bill, H.3079, sponsored by Representatives Loftis, J. Smith, Funderburk, Pope, Clary, W. Newton, Brown, Whipper and Blackwell also resides in the Ways and Means Committee.  

SCCEBA and its partners are committed to find a way to gain support for enactment of this reasonable legislation that would standardize property tax treatment for DER and renewable energy property. We will continue to educate members of the House and its Ways and Means Committee on the merits of the Renewable Energy Economic Development and Jobs Act during the interim in an effort to gain support for the legislation in 2018.

S.44 as amended by the Senate:

*Provides an 80% property tax abatement for commercial renewable energy projects for 10 years
*Clarifies how fair market value for DER property will be determined --cost or income approach

*Allows Pinewood Landfill to qualify for a Superfund income tax credit for solar projects, and
*Ensures residential renewable energy systems will not be taxed.

Purpose of the Legislation:

  • Attract New Capital Investments to South Carolina: Solar industry investors and developers locate projects in states with favorable and predictable property tax policies so they can easily determine the cost and return on their investments. In 2015, more than $30 billion in new investments were made in the solar energy industry in U.S.  
  • Make South Carolina Competitive: 38 states have enacted renewable energy          property tax legislation.  North Carolina enacted a renewable energy property tax    exemption in 2008.  More than $4.4 billion in solar investment and $500 million in state & local tax revenue generated from 2007 through 2015 is attributed in part to passage of the NC legislation. (International Solar Economic Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina—2016 Update, RTI International)

  • Foster New Job Growth in South Carolina: More than 209,000 Americans work in the solar industry, and solar investments have a proven track record of creating jobs for local communities. Since July 2014, SC has experienced tremendous growth in solar jobs.  SC is now ranked in the top 10 nationally for percentage increase in jobs and solar capacity with 1,800 solar related jobs reported in 2016. (2015 South Carolina PV Soft Cost and Workforce Development, SRNL, May 2016)

Who Benefits:

  • Local Governments: SC counties will have a guaranteed, additional 40-year income with investments in NEW commercial, industrial and utility-scale solar investments.  For every $1M invested, approximately $150,000 in property tax revenue will be generated over the life of the facility.
     
  • State: New solar investments add state income tax, unemployment tax, sales tax, and corporate income tax to our state’s economy through the creation of new solar jobs.
     
  • Property Owners: Commercial property owners can reduce their operating expenses, create positive cash flow, and meet corporate sustainability goals with solar investments.  Landowners can also benefit from rental income when ‘hosting’ a solar facility.