By: Frank Knapp, co-chair of the American Sustainable Business Council and president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has sued the Environmental Protection Agency, saying we shouldn’t have to comply with the federal Clean Power Plan and that doing so would cripple our economy.
The legal argument will be decided by the courts. But the economic argument has already been shown to be wrong.
The plan requires that by 2030, South Carolina reduce its carbon pollution by 36 percent from its 2005 levels. We’re one of the 16 states on course to not only achieve that goal but do better, according to a report issued last year.
Our success will be achieved in three ways, by actually spurring new economic growth.
First, S.C. Electric & Gas will have completed two nuclear plants in Fairfield County, which are expected to achieve 80 percent of the state’s carbon pollution reduction goal. While the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce has serious concerns about cost overruns and delays that are driving up consumer costs, we agree with SCE&G that the plants will help “ensure compliance with federal clean air rules.”
Duke Energy also plans to replace aging coal plants with natural gas plants producing less carbon emissions and is looking at constructing two nuclear plants.
Second, utility companies are promoting efforts to increase energy efficiency. I serve on the advisory committee for SCE&G’s EnergyWise Program, which has reduced carbon emissions the equivalent of taking 87,000 cars off the road in its six years. Fine tuning and expanding such energy-efficiency programs will greatly help South Carolina meet its carbon reduction goal.
Finally, state law now provides significant tax credits for solar and requires utility companies to promote and use alternative energy. This is resulting in utilities purchasing electricity from solar farms and paying consumers well for putting building-generated solar energy on the grid. I recently put solar panels on my commercial building, saving 23 percent on my electric bill with an anticipated payoff after just four years.
This promotion of alternative energy is the third leg of South Carolina’s path to relatively easily meet its carbon emission reduction goal under the Clean Power Plan. This plan won’t crush our economy. It will help it grow as a result of the investments and new jobs created.
And we will restrain climate change so that the environment and economy we turn over to our children and grandchildren will provide the opportunity for the same quality of life that we have had.