Solar energy use among South Carolina customers will increase significantly as a result of an agreement filed with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina on Tuesday.

The agreement enhances Duke Energy’s Distributed Energy Resource programs, which were filed with the S.C. Public Service Commission in February. The proposed programs are designed to grow solar capacity in Duke Energy’s South Carolina service area from about 2 megawatts to about 110 megawatts.

Duke Energy, the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, the Coastal Conservation League, the S.C. Solar Business Alliance, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Alliance for Solar Choice and others filed the agreement, which contains details on solar programs Duke Energy will offer starting later this year. The programs are subject to approval by the S.C. Public Service Commission.

“This agreement is a key milestone in bringing South Carolina’s new solar legislation to life,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy president – South Carolina. “The continued collaborative spirit here in South Carolina is remarkable and will benefit our customers across the state.”

Key Provisions of the Agreement

Shared solar: Also known as “community solar,” this program allows multiple customers to participate in a solar facility and receive credit in their monthly bill for the renewable energy produced from that facility. The customer receives a bill credit of approximately 6 cents per kilowatt-hour that is produced. The 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 will begin accepting applications in early 2016, once the solar facilities are built.

Solar rebates: To encourage rooftop solar, Duke Energy will offer rebates to residential customers and non-residential customers who install rooftop or small-scale solar on their property. Eligible residential and non-residential customers will receive $1 per watt (direct current) installed. The typical rooftop installation could earn rebates of about $5,000 under the program over a five-year period. Duke will begin taking applications for this program in late 2015.

Request for proposals: Later in the year, Duke Energy will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for more than 50 megawatts of large-scale solar facilities. As part of the RFP, Duke Energy will solicit purchase power agreements with 15-year terms and proposals to acquire projects.

Collaboration in the future: Duke Energy will form a collaborative working group representing diverse stakeholders to support the progress of these programs and keep all parties informed about distributed energy resource developments.

Additional options for customers: In addition to the currently proposed programs, Duke Energy will provide more options for customers with limited financial resources to take advantage of solar energy. Details about those programs will be available in the months ahead, with the programs available in 2016.

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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