February 6, 2013

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A new solar energy bill introduced in the South Carolina General Assembly aims to help solar power and other forms of renewable energy grow in South Carolina.  Under current state law, companies that install solar panels on homes and businesses and then sell the power generated back to those property owners are regulated as utilities, just like any other electric utility or cooperative. The upfront costs of installing solar panels can be high—sometimes as much as $20,000 or more—but these companies help make that cost more affordable by retaining ownership of the panels and the power they generate.

The bill’s supporters argue that the cost of being regulated like utilities has discouraged solar and other renewable energy companies from investing in South Carolina, despite the state’s abundant sunlight.  Under the new bill, solar companies could avoid regulation as a utility while still selling power back to property owners who have allowed solar panels to be installed, although the companies would be limited in the number of customers they could serve. Proponents of the bill also assert that such a change in the law would yield lower power costs for customers overall.

Learn more about the implications of this proposed bill in an article published in The State entitled “Lower power bills the goal of SC solar energy bill.”