South Carolina eyes expanded net metering as Vermont cuts rates
- Lawmakers in the South Carolina House of Representatives last week voted to expand the states's net metering program, passing an amendment to the state's budget bill that would raise the cap from 2% to 4% of peak load.
- However, Greentech Media notes the measure still must be OK'd by a budget conference committee and then passed by the Senate.
- In Vermont, the solar industry is decrying a decision by regulators to lower the rates paid to residential systems — by some estimates, lowering the value of a rooftop system by $750, according to the Rutland Herald.
Rooftop solar's growth continues to spur debate in various states and last week Vermont and South Carolina appeared to head in different directions. There seemingly is support among lawmakers in the Palmetto State to double the net metering cap, while regulators to the north cut the rates paid to many systems.
Many states have adopted successor tariffs to net metering, including Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Utah, Hawaii, Nevada, California, Vermont and Arizona.
In lowering the rate paid to some systems, the Vermont Public Utilities Commission challenged the idea that lower rates mean the state is turning its back on solar. "This argument conflates net-metering with solar development generally," the commission's order states. "As the Department and the distributed utilities pointed out, there are more cost-effective ways for Vermont to develop solar resources than continuing the current net-metering incentives.”
In South Carolina, lawmakers voted last month to raise the cap on the state's residential solar market, but the measure did not pass due to procedural wrangling. The state's willingness to grow rooftop solar may be a reaction to failed nuclear development.
SCANA Corp. spent billions before pulling the plug on its VC Summer nuclear project, and lawmakers have been working to limit its subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas from recovering nuclear costs from customers.
Duke Energy has launched a campaign against the net metering expansion. The utility is not anti-solar but is opposed to subsidies, Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, president for Duke Energy's South Carolina operations, wrote in an opinion piece for The State Newspaper,
"All of our customers are paying some of our customers for their private solar power," Ghartey-Tagoe wrote. "If solar is cost-effective, then it's time to stop the subsidies."
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter