Duke Energy Proposes New Plan to Expand Rooftop Solar in South Carolina

American electric power holding company Duke Energy has entered into an agreement with leading solar installers, environmental groups and renewable energy advocates that, if approved by regulators, will create long-term stability for the residential solar industry in South Carolina.

September 18, 2020. By Manu Tayal

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American electric power holding company Duke Energy has entered into an agreement with leading solar installers, environmental groups and renewable energy advocates that, if approved by regulators, will create long-term stability for the residential solar industry in South Carolina.

The deal will further provide options for customers while allowing the company to address increasing electric demand periods in the winter for the benefit of it’s systems and customers in both North and South Carolina.

The proposed plan ‘Solar Choice Net Metering’ could be the next generation of net energy metering for the Carolinas, a billing process that credits small customers with rooftop solar arrays for excess electricity they generate and provide to Duke Energy via the grid.

This plan will include retail rates that vary based on the time of day and when utilities experience peak demand. It will also give customers the ability to install a smart thermostat with their solar panels and receive an incentive for the combination.

Commenting on the development, Lon Huber, Duke Energy's vice president for rate design and strategic solutions, said that “this first-of-a-kind package completely modernizes the rooftop solar transaction.”

Huber further added “this new arrangement not only recognizes the value of solar and the enabling energy grid, but it unlocks additional benefits for all customers by addressing when utilities experience peak demand across their systems in the Carolinas.”

Meanwhile, the organizations that become part of the effort include renewable energy advocates Vote Solar and North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association; the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Upstate Forever and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; and leading rooftop solar installer Sunrun. Also, each organization that is part of the agreement will continue to advance the proposal to other stakeholders and ultimately regulators.

Mike Callahan, Duke Energy South Carolina state president, said “collaboration brought us a pathway to growing renewables in the state with Act 62, and that spirit of working together created this plan for the continued expansion of solar in South Carolina.”

“Duke Energy deserves credit for its leadership in bringing stakeholders together, establishing trust through transparency, and embracing policy innovation,” said Thad Culley, senior regional director for Vote Solar.

If approved by regulators, the company anticipates a transitional tariff to be available on June 1, 2021, to allow for a full transition into the new plan on or before January 1, 2022.

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