Charleston, S.C.—Conservation groups reached a settlement Dec. 11 with South Carolina utilities to ensure that customers who choose to invest in solar will receive full retail credit for any power that flows back onto the grid.
The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, filed a settlement agreement with utilities and other intervening parties in the South Carolina net energy metering (NEM) proceeding before the SC Public Service Commission (PSC).
The settlement agreement is a critical step forward in implementing South Carolina’s recently adopted landmark solar legislation, Act 236, which laid the groundwork for residents, utilities, schools, churches and other nonprofits to begin to capitalize on the state’s significant solar potential.
“Today’s settlement represents a win for solar in South Carolina and is a testament to the consensus-based approach that continues to prove effective in advancing solar energy in the Palmetto State,” said Hamilton Davis, from the Coastal Conservation League. “We can expect that public support for local solar power will gain more traction as customers are fairly compensated for the power they generate.”
Under the settlement, residential and commercial utility customers that install solar panels on their rooftops before 2021 when the settlement agreement expires will receive full retail credit for any excess power that flows back onto the electric grid, and will be eligible to remain on this rate until December 31, 2025 without any solar-specific charges or fees. Additional solar programs and incentives designed to spur investments in residential and commercial solar will be filed by utilities with the PSC within 60 days of settlement approval.
The settlement also establishes a methodology for valuing solar power for purposes of utility recovery of lost revenues, if any, which will be recoverable by the utilities through distributed energy resource programs that were authorized by Act 236. In 2020, the PSC will reevaluate the NEM and value of solar policies included in the settlement and will consider appropriate changes to these policies at that time.
“South Carolina can build on initial progress to become more energy independent by encouraging residents to take advantage of the clean energy they are providing, and reducing the need to invest in expensive power plants and transmission infrastructure,” said John Wilson, Research Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Individual investments in local solar provide benefits across the board, and residents can expect additional cost-savings with the availability of more locally-produced energy at peak times.”