How to Use the Solar Calculator
The best way to learn about local rebates, your home’s energy potential, and your eventual return on investment is to use our ModSun Solar Cost Calculator (see above). Enter your home address in the box, then click Check My Roof. You’ll get an instant picture of your roof’s productivity, your average energy expenses, and installation costs in your area—whether you decide to buy or loan. We’ll also provide system size recommendations and information about rebates and incentives you may be eligible for. Just select More Info under each purchasing strategy to learn more, and then connect with a solar pro.
Solar Power in South Carolina
Long, sunny days and high heat make South Carolina a perfect place for a rooftop solar installation. This state offers a bounteous net metering program that credits homeowners for excess power that they return back to the grid, as well as several utility rebate programs that can make your solar purchase more affordable with every kilowatt hour of power you generate.
Solar power is a growing industry in the Palmetto State, boosted by installations constructed by area electric coops. Of course, those installations are only being made popular by residents’ growing interest in the technology, meaning its homeowners, and not state legislators or utilities, that are truly making South Carolina’s switch to solar possible. This guide will take you through the basics of solar power in your state, from how productive the skies are, to the details of the incentives available for homeowners like you who are investing in their first solar energy system.
Solar Productivity in South Carolina
South Carolina’s location on the south Atlantic means that it gets its fair share of heat—highs in the summer regularly hit over 90 degrees. That may make jogging uncomfortable, but it’s great for solar productivity. When the National Renewable Energy Laboratory examined the solar potential for each of the fifty states, it found that South Carolina ranked high amongst its fellow states. With a UV index level of 0.92, South Carolina was listed 10th in the nation for solar potential, producing an average 5 to 5.5 kilowatt hours of power per day, for the average solar energy system. That means there’s lots to look forward to when you purchase a solar energy system for your South Carolina home.
Popularity of Solar in South Carolina
At the end of 2015, South Carolina had installed 15 megawatts of solar capacity, making it 35th in the nation for solar potential, at least according to industry estimates. That amount was enough to power 1,600 homes in the area. However, with large utility-scale installations slated for the end of 2017, you can expect a huge growth in solar capacity throughout the state in the next coming years.
Average South Carolina Residential Electricity Use and Cost
Long summers and high humidity keep energy consumption in the Palmetto State high. Residents here use much more than the national average for monthly energy—in 2014, the Energy Information Association found that this state consumed around 1,200 kilowatt hours of power per month, compared to 911 for the U.S. as a whole. Meanwhile, homeowners also pay dearly for that electricity, about $35 per month more than the national average. That means residents here could definitely use some help reducing their energy expenses, and solar is one great way to do that.
Installing Solar in South Carolina
There are only a handful of solar installers working throughout South Carolina, and most of them are based either in Charleston or Columbia. Currently, national solar chains like SolarCity are not in operation throughout this state, so alternative purchasing options, like solar leases, may be harder for residents here to obtain.
South Carolina State Solar Support
The future of solar in South Carolina is looking bright, as it is in much of the U.S. Although the state government has not enacted a wide variety of solar incentive programs, it does require utilities to credit electricity at the retail rate, rather than letting utilities discount this power at their avoided cost rate. That means that homeowners here can save even more with each kilowatt hour of power they return to the grid.
Additionally, taking their cue from residents’ interest in solar power, area utilities are beginning to investigate more powerful solar installations. For instance, the state’s association of electric cooperatives is hard at work constructing a new network of solar installations that would add as much as 5 million watts to the state’s solar capacity. State and investor utilities have been slightly less enthusiastic about the prospect of more solar installations—recently, they were rumored to have helped defeat a bill that would have offered tax credits for the creation of a new solar farm in an abandoned toxic waste dump site.
While the details of exactly how the state’s energy future will shake out remain unclear, solar is certainly growing throughout the entire U.S. With panel prices becoming more affordable, and interest growing, you can expect to see more and more solar installations in your state.
South Carolina State Solar Incentives
South Carolina offers a few incentives for households that purchase solar installations for their rooftops. The money you can receive through these programs can help significantly offset the equipment costs associated with purchasing a new solar energy system for your household. Here are the details of those programs:
Net Metering: Like most states in the U.S., South Carolina has enacted a net metering policy, a statewide incentive that offers solar households credits for the energy they return back to the grid. Under South Carolina law, utilities must credit homeowners for their energy at the retail rate. Net excess credits can be rolled over onto the next month’s bill. At the end of the year, the utility must pay out any remaining credits at the retail rate.
Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE) Program: Funded by a voluntary fee appended to customer’s utility bills, the South Carolina PACE program offers funding that residents can use towards the purchase of solar energy systems. Levels of funding depend on the size of the system and its environmental impact. Visit the program website for more information.
South Carolina solar homeowners may also be eligible for a federal incentive as well. The national Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit pays those households up to 30 percent of their solar energy system costs, as long as the system generates at least half of the home’s energy demand. To see if you qualify, fill out IRS form 5695 when you file your federal income taxes.
Local South Carolina Solar Incentives
Additionally, there are local incentives offered from various utilities operating in the state that can seriously mitigate the costs of a new solar energy system. These rebates vary depending upon the provider, and the size of your system. Meanwhile, you may also be eligible for a low-interest loan program that can help you pay for the purchase upfront. Here are some of those offerings:
Santee Cooper Renewable Energy Resource Loans: Santee Cooper offers its customers a low-interest loan, of up to $40,000 to use towards the purchase of solar energy equipment. Loan terms may be as long as 120 months, with 100 percent financing. Systems must not be large enough to generate enough power to exceed a home’s monthly average demand.
South Carolina Electric and Gas Customer Scale Solar Rebate Program: South Carolina Electric and Gas offers its customers a performance-based incentive for energy that solar households generate and return to the grid. The rates vary depending upon the capacity size of your system, as follows: for systems sized 0 megawatts to 2.5 megawatts cumulative capacity, the rate is 4 cents per kilowatt hour; for systems sized 2.5 megawatts to 5 megawatts cumulative capacity, the rate is 3 cents per kilowatt hour; for systems sized 5 to 7 megawatts cumulative capacity, the rate is 2 cents per kilowatt hour; and for systems sized 7 to 9 megawatts cumulative capacity, the rate is 1 cent per kilowatt hour.