FEEDBACK:  McMaster’s leadership encouraging; Solar legislation might hurt

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McMaster shows clear leadership at fiscal meeting

To the editor:

I believe many readers of Statehouse Report will be aware of the importance of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority in reviewing and approving the authorization and expenditure of certain state funds. Those who have had the opportunity to view the authority’s webcasts may also appreciate the technically complex nature of the transactions under review in that forum, and the concomitant need for detailed preparation and strictly attentive participation by the members.

In viewing the June 13, 2017, session of the authority, I was struck by Gov. Henry McMaster’s exceedingly clear and commanding leadership of the proceedings, and his conversance with the matters under discussion. A detailed comparison to recent administrations, although frankly inescapable to the experienced observer, might not be constructive or relevant in this context.

Suffice it to say, I believe and assert Governor McMaster’s demonstrated sense of duty and personal dignity are more than noteworthy, and should be encouraging to all who love South Carolina and wish to see her strong.

— Dale M. Rhodes, C.P.A., Richmond, Va.

Disagrees on need for solar panel legislation because it would hurt home rule

To the editor:

I enjoy your writings and musings. I don’t always agree with them, but what a boring world we would have if everyone agreed on everything. Your column about the environment from the Friday edition is good, but I do disagree with you on solar panel legislation that was proposed.

1) It creates another special interest group in our already convoluted tax policy.

2) It takes away home rule from the counties because counties would not be able to negotiate with solar companies. Not all are legit and some may take prime land that could be better used for something else.

In the three counties I represent (Aiken, Edgefield and Saluda), we have had extensive investment of utility grade solar and residential solar. And the county worked to craft deals that would be fair to all concerned. Two companies have announced in Aiken County one was a $13 million project by ESA Renewables and another just this past week of $100 million by Adger Solar. Saluda County has had two large solar projects by Cypress Creek Renewables. And in Aiken County, MTU, one of our local industries, has leased seven acres from Aiken County to build a 1 MW solar farm to help offset their power cost. (If you go to Augusta on I-20 you can see this solar farm at exit 11.)

I want more of these projects in my region and our county councils will work closely to make it happen. Much of the land in these three counties are taxed at agricultural rates and are barely paying taxes. Even with the credits that are given to the companies, these properties are paying substantially more in property taxes than the land was generating. And these investments come with no needs (no kids to educate, no water/sewer needs, etc.)

I can’t speak to all counties in S.C. but I know that Orangeburg, Jasper and Clarendon also have seen a lot of announcements by solar. The other dynamic about the legislature taking away home rule is they don’t have a strong track record of living up to their end of the bargain. The local government fund is one example that rolls easily off the tongue.

I am in agreement on this article except for the solar panel discussion. Not sure comparing SC to N.C. is an equal comp as N.C. is much larger than S.C.

Thank you for putting this report out and for always being willing to speak your mind. (For the record I am on your side about 97 percent of the time.)

— Will Williams, Aiken, S.C.

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