South Carolina Solar

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Let’s learn about some of those incentives, the utility policies associated with interconnection and setup, and special solar financing plans for solar panels and systems in South Carolina.

South Carolina Solar

South Carolina is a state in the Southern US. South Carolina has a mainly humid subtropical climate and variety of topography. It experiences the four seasons in the western part of the state. It is home to the cities of Greenville-Anderson, where the majority of the population is centered, and Columbia and Charleston. South Carolina state government policies favor solar tax incentives. Despite average energy prices and only moderately encouraging utility policies, the generous tax incentives make South Carolina a favorable place for businesses and residents to install solar panels and battery systems.

Let’s learn about some of those incentives, the utility policies associated with interconnection and setup, and special solar financing plans for solar panels and battery systems in South Carolina.

South Carolina Solar Incentives

South Carolina provides multiple solar energy rebates and incentives that help to reduce the overall cost of solar systems. Our EnergyPal Advisors can help you navigate all of the solar incentives available in South Carolina and also apply them to the available solar panel offerings.

In summary:

  • South Carolina offers a 25% credit, up to $8,750, on a solar, solar-battery or battery system. It’s applied to your owed income taxes.
  • If your electricity company is Santee Cooper, you can get a rebate for your home solar system or community solar enrollment.

South Carolina Rebates and Tax Breaks

Here are more details about the incentives available in South Carolina:

  • South Carolina State Tax Credit is the principal solar incentive in the state of South Carolina. Residential property owners can be reimbursed 25% of the cost of solar panels, solar systems, solar hot-water heaters, etc. The maximum rebate amount is $8,750, and the credit comes off of your income taxes in $3,500 increments for up to 10 years starting in the year in which you install the equipment.
  • Santee Cooper customers enrolled in EmpowerSolar can get a rebate of $1.05 per watt installed, up to $5,200. The company also offers a Solar Share program rebate for participating in its community solar project.

Other Solar Energy Incentives

The US federal government helps residents and businesses pay for their solar systems. The federal investment tax credit (ITC) allows for a tax deduction of 26% of the cost of a solar system currently. Tax credits can be rolled over if you can’t use the whole credit this year. The ITC cannot be claimed for solar leases or power purchase agreements (PPAs) where the third party financier takes the credits themselves, but that is typically baked into a reduced lease/PPA monthly for you. For the actual US government bill, see 4908 of the HR 133 (It’s a giant file, so watch out!).

If you purchased a $20,000 system, your savings from the federal tax credit would look like this:

$20,000 X 0.26 = $5,200 savings

You also would save an additional $5,000 by taking advantage of the South Carolina tax credit. So if you spent $20,000 on that system, your cost would go down to $9,800.

Utility Policies

Utility policy factors determine what your utility provider pays you for the excess power you produce and what you save on your power bill by reducing electricity usage. South Carolina gets a medium score for utility policies.

Net Metering and Interconnection Policy

One important policy for solar customers is called Net Metering. Net Metering is a billing mechanism that allows solar customers to push electricity to the grid for credit that can be used later, like at night when your solar panels aren’t generating power. This incentivizes people to go solar, provides clean energy for others to use and prevents waste. Some states have poorer net metering policies than others, meaning that credits may not be able to be rolled over to the next month or year, or that you don’t earn full watt-for-watt credit for your excess energy.

South Carolina’s Net Metering program is favorable, but will likely be downgraded in June of 2021, so it’s most beneficial to go solar before then. You are currently paid full retail credit for your excess energy if you are with SCE&G or Duke Energy, but not with Santee Cooper. Credits can be carried over into the next month and sometimes into the next year. You can connect a system up to 20 kW in size. The exact details depend on your electricity provider’s policies.

Solar Setup Fees

You must have a bi-directional meter (necessary for Net Metering) and apply for an interconnection, which costs $100 to $300.

Electricity Prices

Electricity prices in South Carolina are about average. Usually you don’t want high prices, but with solar, the higher the prices, the more you save, and the more economical a solar system becomes.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average total cost of electricity in South Carolina is $0.127 per kWh for residents. The national average for all states is $0.134 per kWh, ranging from $0.967 to $0.288 per kWh.

Rate Design

Rate designs are comprised of monthly fees and either a flat or tiered rate you pay for electricity. Good rate designs, which save you money when you conserve energy, are tiered and have low fixed monthly fees. Poor rate designs have flat rates and high fixed monthly fees. 

South Carolina is above average when it comes to the quality of its electricity bill rate design. It has many tiered rate programs and low fixed fees (around $10–$15 per month).

You still pay fixed monthly fees when you go solar because you are still tied to the grid. Being tied to the grid is a good thing, because otherwise you might not have power at night or if your system stopped working suddenly. Even if you go off of the grid and rely on a battery source, the high cost of the battery would not outweigh the low monthly fee and the savings obtained from a net metering program.

PACE Programs

PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy and is a financing program for solar projects that is tied to the home instead of the homeowner. The PACE program is not available in South Carolina.

Other Energy Financing

Solar systems can be financed by bank loans, solar installer financing, new home mortgages, energy loans and home equity loans or lines of credit. Cash works too. 

Talk to your EnergyPal Advisor about financing solar options in South Carolina. We regularly source the best deals and terms for our customers.

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