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Santee Cooper board increases incentives, sets April 1 as launch for community, rooftop solar programs


Solar Share will be state’s first community solar program

03/21/2016

<p>The Colleton Solar Farm near Walterboro (Photo by Jim Huff/Santee Cooper)</p>

The Colleton Solar Farm near Walterboro (Photo by Jim Huff/Santee Cooper)

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. — The Santee Cooper Board of Directors today approved South Carolina's first community solar project and new rebates for its community and rooftop solar programs. All programs will launch April 1 and are designed to help customers invest in solar power and cut their electric bills over the life of the program.

Solar Share, the first community solar project available for subscription in South Carolina, will offer Santee Cooper customers the opportunity to purchase the output from a share of the Colleton Solar Farm and receive a rebate for subscriptions of up to 4 kilowatts. Customers will receive a credit on their monthly Santee Cooper electric bill reflecting their share of solar energy produced each month at the solar farm, which is owned and operated by TIG Sun Energy and provides solar power under contract to Santee Cooper. 

The purchase price for 2016 is $1.88 per watt, offset by a $1 per watt rebate, for a net cost to customers of $880 for a 1-kW subscription. Subscriptions will be available through 2018 or until 1 MW is subscribed, with purchase price and rebate amount evaluated each year as the solar panels age.

Solar Share addresses inherent limitations to rooftop solar. Because customers are purchasing output from a shared solar farm, Solar Share expands benefits of solar power ownership to apartment and condominium renters and owners, people who live in subdivisions with covenants that prohibit rooftop solar panels, and to people whose roofs are not properly angled or are shaded.

"Santee Cooper has been the state's leader in solar power for a decade, and we are pleased to open yet another chapter with South Carolina's first community solar program," said Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. "On April 1, our rooftop and community solar programs and related incentives will bring the benefits of solar power to all of our customers, whether they own a roof or not."

The Santee Cooper board also increased rebates for customers who install solar panels on their own roofs and set an April 1 launch for Santee Cooper Solar Home and Santee Cooper Solar Business. Under these residential and commercial rooftop solar programs, Santee Cooper will rebate $1.30 per watt, up to 4 kW. That rebate totals $5,200 for a 4-kW system. 

Community and rooftop solar customers will be charged a monthly standby fee to ensure they are covering their portion of fixed costs to provide them electricity, so that those fixed costs are not shifted to other customers. They will also receive an energy credit of about 3.8 cents per kWh for any excess solar power produced that is put back on the grid. The first 500 residential rooftop customers to sign up will receive an additional 3-cent per kWh credit for excess electricity through 2018, which is also the term for which rebates will be available.

Santee Cooper anticipates the solar panels customers install will last for 20 years, and the residential and commercial rooftop incentives are designed to help customers recover their purchase costs in about 12 ½ years, depending on installed capacity, energy use and other variables. The Colleton Solar Farm is already two years old, and so the Solar Share investments made in 2016 will be for 18 years, with incentives designed so that customers could recover their purchase costs in about 10 years, depending on subscription size, energy use and other variables.

Santee Cooper is South Carolina's largest power provider, the largest Green Power generator and the ultimate source of electricity for 2 million people across the state. Through its low-cost, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity and water services, and through innovative partnerships and initiatives that attract and retain industry and jobs, Santee Cooper powers South Carolina. To learn more, visit www.santeecooper.com