A new solar agreement marks a key milestone for South Carolina customers in the Duke Energy service area. Enhancing Duke Energy’s Distributed Energy Resource programs, the new proposals are designed to grow solar capacity in the utility company’s South Carolina service area from about 2 megawatts to about 110 megawatts.
Included in the proposed programs are more than 50 megawatts of large-scale solar facilities, rebates for community solar and rooftop installations, as well as financial programs for low-income customers.
50 Times More Solar Expected in South Carolina
Filed with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina on Tuesday, the new agreement raises anticipation that 50 times more solar capacity will be installed in Duke’s service area.
South Carolina Duke Energy President Clark Gillespy said, “This agreement is a key milestone in bringing South Carolina’s new solar legislation to life.” Gillespy added, “The continued collaborative spirit here in South Carolina is remarkable and will benefit our customers across the state.”
Duke Energy, the SC Office of Regulatory Staff, the Coastal Conservation League, the SC Solar Business Alliance, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Alliance for Solar Choice and others filed the agreement. Subject to approval by the SC Public Service Commission, the agreement contains details on the solar programs that Duke Energy will offer starting later this year.
Promoting Solar Energy Programs
To encourage rooftop solar, Duke Energy will begin taking applications in late 2015 for a new rebate program. This program offers rebates to both residential and non-residential customers who install rooftop or small-scale solar energy systems on their property. Eligible South Carolina customers will receive $1 per watt of direct current installed. Duke Energy anticipates that the typical rooftop installation could earn rebates of about $5,000 under the program over a five-year period.
Also later in 2015, Duke Energy reports that it will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for more than 50 megawatts of large-scale solar facilities. As part of the RFP, Duke Energy plans to solicit purchase power agreements (PPAs) with 15-year terms, and proposals to acquire projects.
Introducing community solar in South Carolina, another new program allows multiple customers to participate jointly in a solar facility. All participants would receive credit on their monthly bill for the renewable energy produced from that facility. Approximately 6 cents per kilowatt-hour that is produced by the facility will be credited on each customer’s bill.
The community solar program is designed to be attractive to residential customers, such as apartment dwellers, who may not have the ability to install solar, as well as nonprofit organizations like churches, community centers, and schools. Duke Energy reports that it will begin accepting applications in early 2016, once the new community solar facilities are built.
In addition to the currently proposed programs, Duke Energy also adds that it will provide more options for its South Carolina customers with limited financial resources to take advantage of solar energy. These programs will be available in 2016, with details about the programs to be made available in the coming months.
Forming a collaborative working group representing diverse stakeholders to support the progress of these programs, Duke Energy notes that it will keep all parties informed about its distributed energy resource developments.
Duke’s Contributions to South Carolina Solar
Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Duke Energy (NYSE DUK) has already contributed $2 million to Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE), a South Carolina nonprofit organization that promotes the development of renewable energy resources. Through PaCE, the company funded a pilot program that provided matching grants to schools and other educational facilities interested in installing rooftop solar systems.
Additionally, in late 2014, Griggs Road Elementary School in Clover, SC, and Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC, were among the first organizations in the Duke Energy service territory to take part in the solar matching grants program.
South Carolina’s Solar Law
Signed by Governor Nikki Haley in 2014, the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act is designed to promote a diversified portfolio of distributed energy resources in the state. The law resulted from a year of collaboration among representatives from the environmental community, solar industry, and South Carolina electric utility companies.
Opening up the state for solar leasing with appropriate consumer protection regulations, the South Carolina solar law aims to make rooftop solar more accessible for homeowners. It allows utility companies to build solar installations in the state and recoup those costs, just like with other power plant installations. The South Carolina solar law also mandates that utilities craft programs for nonprofits and educational facilities to expand their solar presence.
Pictures by Duke Energy