South Carolina Solar Rebates and Incentives
Although South Carolina does offer some seemingly good incentives on paper, not enough renewable producers are able to fully take advantage of the few available incentives that can make or break green industry, primarily due to the lack of standards and legitimate regulation.
Utilizing the federal tax credits for solar and small scale hydropower installations is the leading way environmentally conscious power consumers are making good on their green investment. Also, buying into the non-profit Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE) program is giving renewable producers a reason to rejoice, but consequently is taking away from the South Carolina Public Service Commission’s (PSC) mandated net-metering program, because of the vagueness of realistic incentives and benefits that investor owned utilities (IOU) are required to offer.
Without any kind of Renewable Energy Standard (RES) South Carolina has left themselves at a disadvantage to make their claim in the green revolution taking place across the nation. As compared to neighboring states, and the example of the nation’s leader in renewable industry, California, a RES may at first be controversial, but after a few years could be South Carolina’s golden ticket to a championship caliber green economy and busy local solar installers.
|Program Type||Personal Tax Credit|
|Technologies||Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Photovoltaics, Solar Cooling, Daylighting, Small Hydroelectric|
25% of eligible costs, maximum incentive in any given tax year of $3,500, or 50% of taxpayer's
tax liability for that taxable year, whichever is less
|Required Documentation||The installation date(s), proof of your costs for the installation of solar and/or small hydro-electric systems|
|Official Web Site||http://www.energy.sc.gov/index.aspx?m=1&t=5&h=19|
South Carolina offers its taxpayers a credit of 25 percent of eligible costs with a maximum of $3,500, or 50 percent of their tax liability, or whichever is less on their annual taxes for installing a renewable solar or small hydro-electric system.
This credit became a reality to both solar and hydro-electric systems with the passing of Senate Bill 1141 in July of 2009 as its predecessor only applied to solar installations. Credits that exceed the annual cap of $3,500, or go unused, can be carried forward for 10 years.
As defined by the bill, a “system” includes “all controls, tanks, pumps, heat exchangers, and other equipment used directly and exclusively for the solar-energy system," but does not include “any land or structural elements of the building, such as walls and roofs, or other equipment ordinarily contained in the structure.”
This valuable credit not only applies to the materials required to build qualifying renewable systems, but also covers labor costs incurred on or after Jan. 1, 2006.
It is up to the owner and/or operator of this system to get the installation certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the South Carolina Energy Office to qualify for the credit.
|Program Type||Performance-based Incentive|
Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal Electric, Municipal Solid Waste,
Anaerobic Digestion, Small Hydroelectric, Biodiesel
|Amount||Varies by technology and customer demand for Palmetto Clean Energy|
Certification by Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or comparable entity
endorsed by the South Carolina Energy Office
|Official Web Site||http://www.palmettocleanenergy.org/|
The Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE) program was created to encourage renewable energy consumption by offering credits, and in the event of an excess of what renewable owners use, the ability to sell the energy back to the grid at a competitive rate. Also, the PaCE program allows for non-renewable owners to purchase the green energy at a slightly higher rate to support the non-profit program and the environmentally conscious effort.
Originally started in 2007—and launched in April 2008 through a collaborative effort among Duke Energy, Progress Energy, South Carolina Electric & Gas Company, the South Carolina Energy Office and the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff—the PaCE program is supported solely by volunteers who wish to contribute their renewable energy to North Caroline via grid-tied solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small-scale hydropower systems.
Modeled after a similar program in neighboring North Carolina, NC GreenPower, PaCE is subject to approvals of renewable generator applications by means of premium payments and sufficient funding for power output. Compensation is based on a system that uses “blocks” of energy where one block is equivalent to $4, and supports approximately 100 kWh of renewable energy generation. Of this $4, $3 goes to the generators and $1 goes to PaCE for its services.
|Program Type||Net Metering|
|Technologies||Photovoltaics, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Small Hydroelectric|
|Amount||Customer net excess generation (NEG) is credited to the customer's next bill at the utility's retail rate|
Certification by Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or comparable entity endorsed
by the South Carolina Energy Office
|Official Web Site||http://www.sceg.com/en/small-business/net-metering|
In July of 2008 the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) put into effect a directive that all investor owned utilities offer a net-metering service to their renewable customers. This was a very vague directive that hasn’t really been completely hashed out.
Essentially, the net-metering program in South Carolina credits the renewable energy producer at the same rate the utility charges for service. The excess energy that is not used by the producer is then pushed back into the energy grid at the same rate. The excess is then tallied, and the kilowatt hours (kWh) that are contributed are reimbursed to the producer at the end of the year, which in the case of South Carolina is June 1st. Only grid-tied systems are applicable to the net-metering program.
There are two options to producers who wish to participate in the net-metering program. The first requires producers to switch to a time-of-use (TOU) tariff that can incorporate high demand charges into its fee structure. The second requires producers to pay an additional monthly fee to net-meter. Unfortunately, these two options are the result of the vagueness of the net-metering directive handed down by the South Carolina PSC.
Corporate Tax Credit
Personal Tax Credit
Sales Tax Exemption
State Loan Program
State Rebate Program
Utility Loan Program
- Berkeley Electric Cooperative - Energy Advance Loan Program
- Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative - Heat Pump Loan Program
- Pee Dee Electric Cooperative - Energy Efficient Home Improvement Loan Program
- Progress Energy Carolinas - Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program
- Santee Cooper - Good Cents Energy Efficiency Loan Program
- Santee Cooper - Renewable Energy Resource Loans
Utility Rate Discount
- Progress Energy Carolinas - Rate Discount for Energy Star Homes
- Santee Cooper - Residential Good Cents Energy Efficiency Rate Discount Program
Utility Rebate Program
- Berkeley Electric Cooperative - Earth Connect Geothermal Heat Pump Rebate Program
- Berkeley Electric Cooperative - Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
- Palmetto Electric Cooperative - Buried Treasure Rebate Program
Rules, Regulations & Policies
Building Energy Code
Energy Standards for Public Buildings
Green Power Purchasing/Aggregation
Related Programs & Initiatives
The U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) provides a wide range of information and resources to enable the use of alternative fuels and other petroleum-reduction options, such as advanced vehicles, fuel blends, idle reduction and fuel economy. The AFDC site offers a database of state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides news and information on green power markets and activities, including opportunities to buy green power. This site provides state-by-state information on green power marketing and utility green power programs. In addition, the site lists marketers of renewable energy credits (RECs), also known as green tags or renewable energy certificates, which represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient. Through this program, weatherization service providers install energy-efficiency measures in the homes of qualifying homeowners free of charge. The WAP program web site offers a state-by-state map of opportunities, projects and activities.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America site provides state-by-state information on wind projects and activities, including wind working groups, validated wind maps, anemometer loan programs, small wind guides, state-specific news, wind for schools, workshops and web casts.