New SC net metering agreement: Full retail rate, no solar fees
- A major agreement has been reached between solar advocates and utilities in the debate over net metering in South Carolina, The State newspaper reports.
- The settlement, filed Thursday, requires utilities to pay the full retail power rate to homeowners and businesses with rooftop solar when their panels deliver electricity back to the grid. It also prohibits state utilities from imposing any solar-specific fees on solar owners who install panels before 2021.
- Although the settlement must yet be approved by the Public Service Commission, The State reports the agreement is an important advance in the implementation of South Carolina's landmark solar access law, signed in June.
South Carolina is an outlier when it comes to solar regulation. As Utility Dive reported last month, the state is doing something few others are — devising a regulatory framework for high solar penetration before it reaches them.
Back then, observers speculated that the state's actions could bring about another novel development — high solar growth without bitter utilities. That seems to be the case with this agreement, as the state's utilities agree to solar pricing terms that has environmentalists "of all stripes" and solar installers pleased, according to The State.
Under the agreement, utility customers who install solar before 2021 will be paid the full retail price of electricity when their panels feed power back into the grid. Customers will be able to keep that rate structure until the end of 2025 without the utilities levying any solar-specific charges or fees.
The State reports that utilities are set to file a number of additional solar programs and incentives with the Public Service Commission to boost solar investment. The filing will come within 60 days of the net metering agreement's expected approval from the PSC.
Signatories to the agreement include Duke Energy Carolinas, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance, the Office of Regulatory Staff, Sustainable Energy Solutions, S.C. Electric & Gas, and others, according to The State.
A regulatory meeting regarding the solar agreement has not yet been scheduled, according to the PSC's online calendar.
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