Solar-Estimate.org’s solar calculator found that in 2019, a 5 kilowatt (kW) residential rooftop solar system has an average cost of $15,400 before incentives are put into place. With the 30% federal tax credit alone, that cost shrinks to $10,780. Then, there’s the 25% statewide solar tax credit, which maxes out at $3,500 a year. At that rate, a homeowner in South Carolina can expect to pay off the price of a solar system installation within 5 to 8 years.

South Carolina solar power facts. Image Credit: Solar-Estimate.org

Incentives and solar rebates in South Carolina

With a properly sized rooftop solar system, a homeowner can wipe out most, if not all of their electric costs. For instance, a 5kW solar system would cost an average $83 per month, saving a homeowner $28,900 in electric bills – enough to buy a nice, new car.

2019 is one of the best years to go solar in South Carolina for a number of reasons.

  • It’s the last year that the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is at its full 30% rebate for the cost of a solar system

  • South Carolina has a great statewide solar tax credit that is equal to 25% of the cost of a system

  • Duke Energy Star offers a solar rebate program with customers receiving $1 per watt installed

  • Santee Cooper offers another terrific solar rebate program with a range of incentives, so long as your solar system is 6kW in size or less

  • The state of South Carolina enacted the Energy Freedom Act, a solar incentive program that protects homeowners and businesses in the state by raising caps on net metering as well as taking other steps to allow people to go solar

If you are unable to go solar in 2019, don’t worry, as the price of solar continues to fall.

However, there are upcoming changes to the Investment Tax Credit. In 2020, the ITC will drop to 26% of the cost of a solar array before dropping to 22% in 2021. It ends altogether in 2022 for homeowners and drops to 10% for commercial-scale solar projects.

 

South Carolina’s Energy Freedom Act

The bill established that: 

An electric utility shall make full retail rate NEM available to all customer-generators that apply before June 1, 2021. Customers who participate in NEM program after the effective date of this act but before 6/1/21 shall continue net energy metering until May 31, 2029.

                                                       – Solar Energy Industries Association

The Energy Freedom Act law also requires the state to move forward with a net metering successor program once the current net metering program ends, which is slated for June 2021. The new law also made important changes to solar power in South Carolina including removing caps on rooftop solar in utilities’ service areas.

The law was integral in ensuring the solar market in the state remained viable. 

Targets set in South Carolina’s Act 236 from 2014 had underestimated the demand for solar in the state. Instead of propelling growth of the distributed solar market through 2021 as intended, investor-owned utilities began encountering statutory caps three years early. 

                                                        – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Some utilities, including Duke Energy and Santee Cooper, offer additional incentives like rebates and loans to help finance solar system installations. These can further reduce the cost of a photovoltaic solar rooftop system in South Carolina.

Calculate how much solar can save you on your electricity bills

Are there any drawbacks to going solar in South Carolina?

Despite the numerous incentives for going solar in the state, some drawbacks do exist. However, they are scant.

South Carolina lacks a statewide interconnection standard (or requirement), meaning utilities have free reign in regards to setting their own requirements and charges.

Some utilities, like Duke and South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G), offer solar electric system interconnections to the grid with no monthly fees. Others, such as Santee Cooper, do impose such fees.

The Southern Environmental Law Center has a nifty tool that allows users to see whether or not a utility in South Carolina charges these fees and how much they add up to. For instance, Santee Cooper’s monthly solar fees add up to $24 per month for a rooftop solar system. Over a 30-year lifespan, those fees could accumulate to over $8,600, the tool found

The tool calculates net metering rates for various utilities, as well.

South Carolina solar power costs for various financing options. Image Credit: Solar-Estimate.org

 

How can I save more on energy in South Carolina?

A local installer can provide you with an accurate cost-benefit analysis. They’ll be able to tell you about any financing options you may be eligible for as well, including property assessed clean energy (PACE), solar loans, and more. A good financing option can help reduce the cost of going solar in South Carolina significantly.

Another important yet often-overlooked component when considering installing solar panels for your home is energy-efficient upgrades. By replacing old light bulbs and appliances, you can reduce your energy use even more – on top of maximizing the payback on energy that is net metered through your solar system and sent back to the grid. 

To learn more about excellent energy efficient upgrades, check out CutMyBill.

Calculate what the solar payback period is for your home