Renewable Energy Technology Incentives in South Carolina
Over half of South Carolina’s power is provided by nuclear and with two new plants currently under construction it’s not a technology that the state is willing to give up lightly. 5% of the state’s electricity comes from renewables of which nearly two thirds is delivered by hydroelectric. South Carolina was late in enacting a Renewable Portfolio Standard and the level is fairly modest at just 2% by 2021.
As the major contributor to the state’s renewable energy provision, hydroelectric is delivered by 6 large plants including Bad Creek with a capacity of 1,065 MW. Wind and solar have a fared a little less well in the state though recent public support for alternative energy and the desire to move away from fossil fuels has begun may begin to change things.
There are proposals for offshore wind farms though we are still some way from contracts being signed and construction beginning. The problem has always been that South Carolina is intensely conservative and often unwilling to give up the fossil fuel and nuclear agenda it has relied on for so long. How quickly that changes will depend on a number of factors, not least rising public opinion. Biomass has had a more positive reception in South Carolina with two power plants in Allendale County and Dorchester County, both producing over 17 MW each.
Solar PV Incentives in South Carolina
There are only 51 solar companies in the state employing around 1,800 workers and the total capacity is just 15 MW putting South Carolina way down the league table for installations. There are incentives available for installing solar PV including the Federal Tax Rebate which takes 30% off the cost of an array. South Carolina has net metering in place and the SCE&G Customer Scale Solar Program came into effect in 2015 for residential systems under 25 kW. Large utility companies such as Duke Energy are finally coming on board to help promote solar and this has made a difference in recent times.
Solar PV Case Study in South Carolina
South Carolina offers both purchase and leasing for solar PV installations. Outright purchases benefit from the Federal Tax Rebate but you also get the state rebate, though the tax rate for the state is low. You should expect to pay around $15,000 initially with a Duke Energy discount and with the other rebates will expect to pay off any loan amount within 14 years. That leaves a net profit of over $18,000 during the 25-year lifespan of the installation, not to mention the amount added to the sale value of your home.
Solar Thermal Incentives in South Carolina
Solar thermal is a passive system used to collect heat from the sun for creating hot water and is becoming increasingly popular as a low cost energy system. It benefits from some of the same incentives as solar PV and utility companies such as Santee Cooper offer a Residential Energy Efficiency Existing Homes Rebate Program for which solar water heating is eligible.
Small Hydro Incentives in South Carolina
There is capacity and legislation in place to promote micro hydro across the whole of the US and companies like Red Bank Hydro in West Columbia provide solutions for homes, farms and small commercial concerns. Incentives such as Solar Energy and Small Hydropower Tax Credit can help recover up to 25% of costs for an installation. Performance based incentives such as the Palmetto Clean Energy (PaCE) Program are also available for small hydro as well as other renewable technologies.
Geothermal Incentives in South Carolina
Geothermal heating has become more popular across the whole of the US, especially with installations such as ground source heat pumps. For homes and businesses that have the right infrastructure there are incentives available from utility companies as well as the Palmetto Electric Cooperative Buried Treasure Rebate Program.
Biomass Incentives in South Carolina
The state is building two wood pellet plants that should each produce just under 20 MW and there are plenty of natural resources to make biomass a viable option in the region. There are a number of incentives available for business and residential properties including tax credits and the Biomass Energy Production Incentive which pays out $0.30 per thermal produced.
Wind Power Incentives in South Carolina
The state has good natural resources for exploiting wind power, especially off shore and initial reticence is beginning to soften as the potential, not just for power production but also job creation, is realized. This is a conservative state that has never quite taken to renewable energy but with PaCE performance payments and net metering available there are some incentives to take advantage of. Wind power could provide many remote communities and farms low cost electricity and also deliver additional financial gains if the right measures are in place.
South Carolina has a lot of the right incentives in place to help promote a range of renewable technologies but with a low RPS, take up across the board has been fairly slow. Things are beginning to change, however slowly, so expect states like South Carolina to move forward with renewables in the next decade or so.
You can find out more about renewable technology incentives in South Carolina on the DSIRE web portal.