According to the Center for American Progress, one goal of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 was to bring greater collaboration between the federal government and state and local governments on clean energy projects. These partnerships have a dual benefit by helping states meet carbon-reduction milestones while also driving economic growth and creating jobs through clean energy investments.
South Carolina is a case in point, particularly given Governor Henry McMaster’s engagement on clean energy and related economic development.
Over the summer, his federal counterparts – President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Energy (DOE) Jennifer Granholm – visited the state to promote clean-energy projects that have helped add jobs and bolster local economies.
In July, the president took a tour of a new facility in West Columbia, S.C., that produces solar microinverters made by California-based Enphase Energy. As Canary Media reported, the plant is owned and operated by contract manufacturer Flex and produces Enphase’s IQ8 microinverter. It converts solar panel output from direct current to alternating current so it can power homes and businesses.
Photo Courtesy Enphase
According to Canary Media, one reason Biden visited the factory was to tout another example of a U.S.-based clean energy company “onshoring its manufacturing” following the passage of the IRA. The legislation awards tax credits of 11 cents per watt of capacity for microinverters produced in the U.S.
“Enphase first commercialized a component that converts solar energy into electricity — all that solar energy doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you can’t convert it into electricity,” Biden said at the factory opening. “Now Enphase is partnering with Flex to make these parts here, in South Carolina. And today, they’re shipping their first microinverters made in America.”
He also noted that jobs that “used to go to Mexico, India, Romania, China are now coming home to South Carolina,” WRDW reported.
Photo Courtesy Enphase
The July factory tour followed Granholm’s visit in June to South Carolina to showcase how electric vehicle (EV) chargers manufactured in the U.S. are helping make EV charging “a reliable and seamless experience for all Americans,” according to the Energy.gov website.
Through “Investing in America,” the DOE has allocated more than $65 million over the past year to energy efficiency and grid resilience projects in South Carolina.
Part of the funding will help low-income households access more efficient appliances.
A few months before their visit to the state, Governor Henry McMaster also announced hundreds of new jobs from other solar investments made in the state: “Hounen’s investment in Orangeburg County not only adds to the state’s growing renewable energy economy but also shows that South Carolina is a place where companies in every industry can thrive.”
Photo Courtesy energy.gov
“We’re seeing South Carolina really lead the pack in many ways when it comes to clean energy economy,” John Brooker, a member of Conservation Voters of South Carolina, told WRDW.
“We’ve seen $11 billion in the past year or so in investment in clean energy industries, 14,000 or so jobs brought to the state,” he continued.
Meanwhile, EV manufacturing companies have committed “billions of dollars and thousands of jobs” in the Palmetto State as part of an effort to accelerate the production of EVs, batteries, and related parts, WRDW reported.
According to Energy.gov, among the other developments in recent years include the following:
- The DOE’s Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program have invested more than $22 million in South Carolina since 2015, leading to 453 jobs.
- South Carolina will receive nearly $15 million in federal funding to help build additional EV charging stations.
- In 2022, South Carolina had 18,100 registered EVs, a 50% increase from the previous year’s 12,100.