In November 2019, the South Carolina Public Service Commission approved the lowest solar rates utilities must pay independent solar producers in the nation. SEIA issued a statement at the time saying the decision undermined the Energy Freedom Act and “will have a lasting and devastating effect on the solar industry’s ability to operate in South Carolina.”
At the beginning of 2020, the PSC reversed that decision in response to petitions by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and others asking for the commission to reconsider, according to Bryan Jacob, SACE solar program director.
Jacob said the commission realized there were inconsistencies between the low rate and the Energy Freedom Act, so it increased the price Dominion Energy must pay to independent solar providers.
He said developers will be able to make a profit using the new rates, but PPA contract terms should also be lengthened to create a vibrant solar market. They’re currently set at 10 years, which was the minimum length established by the Energy Freedom Act.
“A 10-year contract is not sufficient for developers to be able to collect capital,” Jacob said. “People who are financing those projects want certainty.”
A hearing on contract terms will take place early this year.