It’s like something Alice would find in Wonderland: A state that is for free enterprise, except when it is not. It’s South Carolina, and something to be reconciled for a logical energy future.
After voting for a state-owned and controlled utility with Santee Cooper, policymakers have done a 180 and want to go full throttle on free market electricity. They have a committee that is supposed to look at a regional organization to run parts of the energy market for South Carolina. Now that is exporting power!
Remember that Santee Cooper was the focus of a good study lawmakers disregarded.
What would benefit South Carolina? We touched on this in an earlier post but it bears repeating:
Avoid Bureaucracy. In the Santee Cooper “reform,” South Carolina stacked watchers on watchers over Santee Cooper. This comes with a guarantee – slowness, inefficiency, finger-pointing.
Promote energy diversity. Opportunities here. The state’s ample and carbon-free nuclear base gives it an opportunity to close coal plants and backfill with solar, wind, and more hydro. Add storage for an ideal portfolio. South Carolina, you would look smart.
Know this: The challenge on energy diversity will not come from industry, but citizens. In a University of Georgia study, only 24% of respondents would agree to solar infrastructure and 17% agree to wind turbines located 0-1 km/miles from their residences.
Better move quickly, openly, and wisely to get these sources up and running.
Lead, Don’t Micromanage. I listened in on a South Carolina energy webinar recently. I was struck that this big energy world comes down to just inside-baseball players in South Carolina.
The proposed regional coordinating entity called SEEM by utilities was called “reform light” by state insiders. Yet policymakers itch to be under the control of a regional transmission organization, more dominant and controlling than SEEM would be. Wonderland thinking.
Energy schizophrenia must be solved to advance power policies in South Carolina. The state does not trust those from outside the state but craves regional oversight. The policymakers want free enterprise with a state-owned power company. Policymakers want knowledge, as with the Santee Cooper study, to ignore. It’s a wonder, and a wonderland.