Clean Energy Advocates Reach Agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas to Extend Solar Net Metering Program

Jennifer Rennicks | September 6, 2018 | Press Releases

Upstate utility agrees to credit rooftop solar customers for excess power produced by their systems

Media Contacts:
Southern Environmental Law Center | Scott Smallwood | ssmallwood@selcga.org | 770.598.0111
Costal Conservation League | Caitie Forde-Smith | caitiefs@scccl.org| 252.714.4790
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy | Jennifer Rennicks | mjennifer@cleanenergy.org | 865-235-1448

 

Greenville, S.C. — Clean energy advocates in South Carolina have reached an agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas to extend the utility’s net metering program, which credits rooftop solar customers for excess power produced by their systems, until March 15, 2019.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on behalf of Coastal Conservation League and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), along with Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, the Office of Regulatory Staff, and the Solar Business Alliance, submitted a petition to South Carolina’s Public Service Commission (PSC) earlier today, requesting to temporarily extend the utility’s net metering program. The extension will allow more time for stakeholders to identify broader policy opportunities for the future of energy in South Carolina, with the goal of providing longer-term solar programs and customer options in upstate South Carolina.

“The success of this program to date shows that solar is working for South Carolina families,â€ said Lauren Bowen, staff attorney for SELC. “Extending the timeline for Duke Energy Carolina’s net metering program gives more of its customers the ability to install solar as a way to manage their energy costs while collaborative discussions are underway.â€

Earlier this summer, Duke Energy Carolinas met two percent of its retail peak demand with net metered solar power, a threshold put in place by legislation passed four years ago by the state legislature. At that point, the utility closed the program to new participants.

“Duke Energy Carolina’s net metering program has played a crucial role in reaching the state’s renewable energy goals,â€ said Eddy Moore, the Coastal Conservation League’s Energy and Climate Program Director. “The rapid expansion of rooftop solar put South Carolina residents to work, providing stable jobs to more than 3,000 workers across the state – jobs that are now in jeopardy due to program limits. Current laws allow utilities to change the rules for customer solar when it reaches two percent of the utility’s peak demand. Duke Energy Carolinas customers recently became the first to hit this threshold.â€

In 2014, South Carolina enacted landmark legislation opening the door for solar growth across the state. As a result, the state has become one the fastest growing solar markets in the country. However, policies that have helped South Carolina’s rooftop solar industry flourish also include arbitrary limits on that growth by imposing low net metering requirements that utilities statewide are quickly approaching.

“Extending the benefits of net metering for Duke Energy Carolinas’ customers is welcome news, but it is really just an interim fix for the longer term need of continued access to clean and cost-effective renewable energy,â€ said Bryan Jacob, Solar Program Director for SACE. “Today’s agreement puts a spotlight on the fact that stakeholders have more work to do and that the legislature will need to take swift action in the upcoming session to approve a longer-term solution that supports the continued economic growth solar provides, as well as expanding energy choices for customers statewide.â€

 

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Southern Environmental Law Center
For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is a non-profit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that work to address the impacts of global climate change and ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. After more than 30 years, SACE remains the only regional organization solely focused on transforming the way we produce and consume energy in the Southeast.

Costal Conservation League
Founded in 1989, the Coastal Conservation League is a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the coastal resources of South Carolina. Our mission is to protect the natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water and traditional communities by working with citizens, local governments and the state legislature.