A compromise bill was introduced to the South Carolina Legislature last week to encourage a proliferation of solar power generation for residential use. It would open the way for residential leasing of solar panels, encourage utility companies to establish distributed generation programs, and get the ball rolling for a much-needed update to the rates that customers receive for generating solar power to the grid.
“This bill lights the path to South Carolina’s solar power future,” said SELC Senior Attorney Blan Holman. “Not only would it give residents and businesses the freedom to lower utility bills using solar power, it would spark thousands of new jobs in the solar sector while helping recruit international firms wanting access to clean energy.”
The initial bill addressed only solar leasing, after which hearings indicated there was wide public support for greater access to solar by residents, churches and universities. The new bill, developed by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, not only addresses solar leasing for individual homeowners and businesses, but also opens the way for larger utility-scale projects that would be integrated directly to the grid.
Even with the cost of solar panels plummeting every year, it still takes years to break even through cost savings. The bill would establish a process to lease solar panels to homeowners, who would then be able to benefit from immediately lower power bills by selling power back to the grid. Because installing a solar panel on the roof of a house or business is expensive, third-party companies could afford to help pay for installation, lease the panels to the home or business owner, and sell back the electricity they generated by collecting federal tax incentives and deductions for investment in solar power.
The bill would establish a system of net-metering, seeking to create a multi-track process for ensuring fair net-metering rates, development of cost effective utility distributed energy programs that include solar, and rules for solar leasing.
Read the Press Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center:
SELC Praises South Carolina Solar Power Bill