Energy was a hot topic in South Carolina this year. As a state with clean energy aspirations, many of the headlines came from a failed nuclear project in Fairfield County, SC. The VC Summer nuclear site has embroiled utility companies and state legislators in controversy while putting the public in a bad spot, having already footed $2 billion dollars of the construction costs. Currently there is a deal on the table that would allow Dominion utility to purchase SCANA, and compensate rate payers for their failed project.
Solar energy also made the news, especially in the Upstate. The massive success of Act 236 sent solar adoption numbers soaring over the past three years. So much so, that Duke Energy reached their goal of subscribing 2% of their rate base with solar years before they had planned on reaching the benchmark. When Duke decided to suspend their net metering policy as they reached the goal this summer, many were left in a confusing situation. For over a month, solar customers, installers, and utilities did not have a rate policy for solar and therefore projects stalled. Weeks later, in September, came the announcement that Duke Energy would reinstate net metering but only for a limited time. This did give utility customers and local businesses a chance to prepare for the next stage of solar in South Carolina, which will come after March 15th of 2019 for Duke Energy customers. By then, it is expected that stakeholders including utilities, solar industry businesses, legislators, consumer advocates, and environmental groups will decide on the new solar interconnection standard for Duke and other utilities.
For South Carolina residents, most still have net metering available to them for now, but after March 15th 2019 this will change for a significant number of households and businesses. Even later in 2019, SCE&G (mainly serving Midlands and Lowcountry) is expected to reach their state mandated 2% benchmark for net metered solar subscribers in their territory. Net metering has been a great advantage to early subscribers to home solar because of the customer’s ability to generate power during the day to use later, without batteries. It’s been a win-win for customers and utility. The next iteration of solar in SC will surely be different, and many smaller utility companies have moved to a net billing scenario that will compensate overproduction at 5 cents per kWh, instead of the current rate of 10-15 cents per kWh.
All to say, the economics are changing in many forms of energy in our state for a number of reasons. The window of time to take advantage of net metering in SC is closing fast and we hope to help many more customers interconnect their residential and commercial solar systems before it closes completely. If you’re thinking about going solar, you can take advantage of net metering, federal and state tax credits, and decreasing equipment prices now through the end of the first quarter of 2019. For now, the sun is out in South Carolina and the savings are here! How do you plan on spending less for energy in the coming years?
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