S.C. agreement sets solar net metering terms

An agreement filed in South Carolina spells out new terms for solar net metering, in which utilities pay for the electricity home solar installations add to the grid.

The Office of Regulatory Staff, which advocates for public interests, filed the agreement Thursday with South Carolina’s utility commission. The commission must approve the agreement for it to take effect.

Duke Energy said utilities, solar businesses and environmental groups support the plan.

The agreement proposes a methodology to calculate the value of solar generation, based on its costs and benefits, and provides incentives for “distributed” energy such as solar arrays.

Clark Gillespy, Duke’s South Carolina president, said the agreement allows existing and future net metering customers to lock in the rates they’re paid for up to 10 years. It also lets utilities recover the cost of providing service to all customers.

South Carolina has lagged in solar development, while North Carolina supports one of the nation’s fastest-growing solar industries. North Carolina solar has been boosted by a renewable energy mandate that South Carolina lacks.

But South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed legislation in June that’s intended to grow renewable energy in the state.

The law allows companies to lease solar systems to homeowners, making the technology available to more customers. It lets utilities build solar farms and recoup their costs as they would for traditional power plants.