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New Law in South Carolina Paves the Way for More Solar Energy

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South Carolina has recently taken initiative in preparation for the progressive movement from traditional energy utilization to renewable solar energy.

Environmentalists, solar advocates and utilities and electric cooperatives teamed up to form an Energy Advisory Council, producing what is known as Act 236. The proposed law essentially provides a guideline to regulations on solar energy that will enable an increase in use while keeping costs down. Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Government Relations Vice President John Frick expressed the importance of implementing such an Act to avoid any future issues associated with set policies that could hinder solar energy growth.

Act 236 includes a number of provisions that organize the legalities of ownership, methodology of rate structures and installation cap expansions. The Act uses a Value of Solar (VOS) methodology to develop rate structures that incorporate distributed energy resources (DERs) in the equation. DERs are smaller energy sources that can be combined with renewable technology to meet the requirements of energy consumption. Utilization of DERs is a key component in transitioning to solar energy, and Act 236 provides a solution to the complex issue of valuing these rate structures.

Another provision of Act 236 allows third party ownership (TPO) of rooftop solar. The implementation of TPO gives homeowners and lessees discounted utility bills while larger funds take on the responsibilities of ownership. This factor has been proven to have a large impact on increases in solar use in other states.

Other provisions of Act 236 involve requirements for two of the state’s large utilities, Duke Energy Carolinas and South Carolina Electric and Gas, to get two percent of their five-year rolling peak load average from renewables by the end of 2020. Further, restrictions on commercial and industrial installation caps have been expanded, and regulators now must harmonize DERs in their rate structures as their use increases today.

Utilities are somewhat of a controversy in regards to Act 236, as it requires cooperatives to avoid cross-subsidization between customers. The problem arises from rural customers who do not wish to progress into solar energy. Those customers cannot be charged for something they do not use.

Some energy executives are optimistic about the new changes brought on by Act 236, while others remain skeptical. Act 236 must work out the bugs and stand conclusive by its deadline of March 2015. If all goes accordingly, we will see major advancements and changes in solar energy. Changes to regulations and policies, along with steady annual decreases in installation costs are all major factors that advocate the future increase in the utilization of solar energy.

As solar energy hardware and software providers, Sorapro is excited about Act 236 and the implications for the future of solar energy. To find out more about Sorapro solar monitoring, contact us today:

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