The Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) filed a comprehensive agreement Thursday with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) that spells out a balanced path for solar net metering in the state.
The agreement is supported by utilities—including Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress—solar power businesses, environmental groups and others.
“Cooperation was a key element when South Carolina passed solar legislation in June,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy president—South Carolina. “Many of those same groups participating in that process have ironed out an agreement that will enable solar development in the state.”
Gillespy said the settlement proposes a methodology to calculate the value of solar generation, based on its known and quantifiable benefits and costs, and provides for direct incentives for distributed energy resources.
Under the agreement, net metering customers as of Dec. 31, 2020, will continue to be credited at the retail rate through Dec. 31, 2025.
The difference between the applicable retail rate and the value of net metered solar generation as computed under the methodology proposed in the agreement will be treated as a Distributed Energy Resource (DER) program net metering incentive and collected from customers systemwide by the utilities. This will be subject to statutory caps in effect under Act 236, the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act.
Within 60 days of the settlement, Duke Energy will file DER programs, which will include incentives for residential and small commercial customer-generators.
The parties to the settlement have agreed to revisit net metering in 2020. The new net metering tariffs approved in 2020 would apply to new customers who elect to net meter after Jan. 1, 2021, and existing customers after Dec. 31, 2025.
Signed by Gov. Nikki Haley in June 2014, the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act of 2014 is a comprehensive law to help develop renewable energy in South Carolina.
It opens up the state for solar leasing with appropriate consumer protection regulations, which will make rooftop solar more assessable for homeowners. It allows utilities to build solar in the state and recoup those costs – just like it does with other power plants. And it mandates that utilities craft programs for nonprofits and educational facilities to expand their solar presence.
The first step of the law is for South Carolina's utilities to propose a new net metering approach that will ensure the costs and benefits of net metered generation are accurately quantified and a methodology is established to ensure the utility recovers its cost of serving both net metering customers and all other customers.