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Petition circulating to help UMCs use solar energy

{mosimage}In the interest of caring for creation, Washington Street United Methodist Church s Green Team investigated solar arrays for one of its flat-roofed buildings a little more than a year ago.

{mosimage}COLUMBIA “ In the interest of caring for creation, Washington Street United Methodist Church s Green Team investigated solar arrays for one of its flat-roofed buildings a little more than a year ago.

A company would have furnished the solar arrays free, with eventual ownership going to the church in exchange for the tax credits (churches and non-profits pay no taxes and thus can earn no tax credit, making a solar array an inefficient investment).

However, a state regulation requires that the owner of the array qualify as a utility.

To combat this issue, retired UM pastor Wiley Cooper is leading a petition drive to change that regulation.

The petition, which goes to S.C.’s state senators and representatives, is titled Lower Our Electric Bills by Allowing Solar Leasing. 

Electricity rates in South Carolina are going up fast, and few of us can afford it,  the petition reads. Fortunately, solar leasing allows the average non-profit or church to get solar panels for little or no cost, and your monthly electric bill goes down immediately. Solar leasing works for churches, schools, hospitals, businesses, and homeowners. Unfortunately, S.C. law prohibits solar leasing because utilities want people to buy their electricity.

Let’s change that. Sign this petition, and call your state senator and representative to tell them you want the right to lease panels and lower your electric bills,  reads the petition.

Duke Power has a program to put a solar array on selected businesses and non-profits, Cooper said, but he fears that once a utility meets its EPA-required percentage of energy from renewable sources, that would be the end of the generosity. Also, the utility gets to select who gets the solar arrays.

The state regulations should be changed so that any church or non-profit could benefit if it chose,  Cooper said.

To sign the petition and help this effort, visit www.change.org/petitions/lower-our-electric-bills-by-allowing-solar-leasing .

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