Solar Power Wins South Carolina on Agreement With Duke

Solar power in South Carolina is poised to expand after state utilities agreed to pay homeowners and businesses for excess power from rooftop systems.

In a settlement agreement between Duke Energy Corp., the state’s electric cooperatives and environmental groups, the utilities will credit customers for excess production over the next decade, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke said today in a statement. Fewer than 200 of the utility owners 720,000 South Carolina customers produce their own power today, according to Ryan Mosier, a Duke spokesman.

“Public support for local solar power will gain more traction as customers are fairly compensated for the power they generate,” Hamilton Davis, energy and climate director at the Coastal Conservation League, said in a statement.

Solar developers have been reluctant to enter the South Carolina market without a commitment by utilities to credit customers the full electric rate for any excess power from rooftop systems. State regulators will hold hearings on the agreement in February and plant to vote on it a month later.

South Carolina’s Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed a law in June to promote distributed energy, a move that paved the way for today’s announcement.

“We believe this is a positive step for South Carolina and the future of solar energy in our state,” Clark Gillespy, president of Duke in South Carolina, said in the statement.

Homes and businesses that want to install solar for the first time will also be able to finance the renewable systems through leases, the most popular method partly because it requires no money down.

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