At a press conference this week, Mayor Knox White declared Jan. 19 as Solarize Greenville Day, in what he said is an effort to encourage residents and business owners to consider using solar energy for power.
The announcement precedes an event on Saturday hosted by Solarize South Carolina that allows people go on a self-guided Upstate Solar Tour of three homes retrofitted with solar panels and a new home constructed with solar shingles.
The tour is available from noon to 4 p.m., and the homeowners will showcase their systems and discuss why they decided to use solar energy.
Ashley Edwards, marketing and outreach manager for Solarize South Carolina, said solar energy use is growing and is up from 580 solar installations in the state in 2014 to 830 currently.
The organization, which is part of SmartPower, was responsible for 92 of those installations, Edwards said. The company offers free assessments for residents considering solar energy and also helps provide financing through Dividend Solar.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis said the state is helping to support solar energy with a law passed in 2014 that allows third-party financing of rooftop solar panels. That law also allows net metering, a process where homeowners sell unused solar energy to an energy company.
Inglis is executive director of RepulicEn, a politically conservative organization that promotes clean energy and solutions to climate change. Inglis said while his organization promotes clean energy, he wants to see subsidies that support the industry eliminated and allow the energy industry to become more market-driven.
But he added after the press conference that energy companies such as those that use coal-fired plants should be charged a carbon tax due to costs that “aren’t seen on the meter,” such as long-term damage to the environment and public health.
“When [companies] put that soot in the air, somebody ends up at GHS [Greenville Health System],” he said.
Inglis would like to see the carbon tax paired with a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes in other areas so the government doesn’t grow any larger. The former congressman didn’t suggest a dollar amount for the carbon tax, but noted a “huge debate” is raging over what it should be.
SO YOU KNOW //
What: Upstate Solar Tour
When: Jan. 23, noon-4 p.m.