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Solar Incentives & Rebates

Solar is hot! Photovoltaics are increasingly popular, and a variety of financial incentives ensure that going solar is a choice that makes sense – and cents! – for homeowners. Following are details on a few of the solar incentives and rebates available to residents in Upstate South Carolina.


Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (30% Federal)

There’s been much press covering Congress’s recently passed omnibus spending bill. Signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 18, the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2016 comprises 887 pages of budget provisions – including an extension of federal tax credits for renewable energy systems. This Act extends the 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit – originally slated to expire in 2016 – for three additional years. Federal tax credits for solar remain at the current 30% rate through the end of 2019.

The 30% federal personal tax credit is available for homeowners who purchase and install qualified solar technologies, including rooftop photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters. It is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the income taxes that the individual claiming the credit would otherwise pay the federal government. The residential tax credit is based on the amount of investment in solar property — with no upper limit — including equipment and labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home. If the federal tax credit exceeds tax liability, the excess amount may be carried forward to the succeeding taxable year for up to 10 years.

The solar property must serve a home located in the United States that is owned and used as a primary or secondary residence by the taxpayer. Existing homes and new construction qualify; rentals do not qualify.

More details HERE. As in all tax matters, taxpayers are advised to consult their tax professional.


South Carolina Solar Energy Tax Credit (25% State)

In South Carolina, homeowners may claim a tax credit of 25% of the costs of purchasing and installing a solar energy system. The home must be in South Carolina and owned by the taxpayer, and the credit cannot be claimed until installation is complete. Maximum credit in any given tax year is $3,500, or 50% of the taxpayer’s tax liability for that taxable year, whichever is less. If the amount of the credit exceeds $3,500, the excess may be carried forward for up to 10 years.

The term “system” includes all controls, tanks, pumps, heat exchangers and other equipment used directly and exclusively for the solar energy system.

Solar energy systems must be certified by the nonprofit Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a comparable entity endorsed by the State Energy Office.

More details HERE. Again, as in all tax matters, taxpayers are advised to consult their tax professional.


Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program

As of October 13, Duke Energy’s South Carolina customers who install solar projects on their homes can qualify for a $1 per watt rebate (up to 20 kilowatts) to help offset the upfront costs. Solar systems on energy-efficient, high performance homes generally range from 5-8 kilowatts. That means average rebates of $5,000-$8,000 for homeowners.

Duke Energy’s solar rebate – offered on a first-come, first-served basis – will be available until a total of 6 megawatts of new solar have been added to the Duke Energy Progress grid and 27 megawatts have been added to the Duke Energy Carolinas grid. The program is retroactive for customers installing solar systems as of January 1, 2015.

The rebate is part of Duke’s Distributed Energy Resource program, which was established to meet the requirements of the Distributed Energy Resource Program Act of 2014. Passed unanimously by the SC General Assembly, Act 236 was designed to promote a diversified portfolio of solar and other renewable energy resources in the state. To qualify, customers must receive electric service from Duke Energy in South Carolina and must own the property where the solar is installed.

More details at HERE; rebate application HERE.


Duke Energy’s New Net Metering Guidelines

Solar is a significant investment when building a new home, but Duke’s solar rebate – coupled with the federal and state tax incentives mentioned above – brings upfront costs down significantly. Then, the system can start paying for itself on Day 1 thanks to net metering.

Net metering is a special metering and billing agreement between utilities and their customers, which facilitates the connection of small, renewable energy-generating systems (such as solar) to the power grid. Duke Energy recently introduced a new net metering rider which allows homeowners to receive full retail value for any excess energy their solar system produces and sends to the grid to be netted against monthly usage. This one-for-one kilowatt hour incentive is valid through 2025.

A bidirectional meter measures two-way flow of electricity; Duke maintains an account of total electricity produced and consumed. When more electricity is produced than consumed in a month, excess kilowatt-hour credits roll over to the next month. When less electricity is produced than consumed in a month, the homeowner pays the difference. Under the new net metering rider, Duke pays customers (at an “applicable avoided cost rate”) for any excess generation that remains on March 1 each year to zero-out electric bills, then restarts the monthly carry-over process.

Qualifying rooftop solar systems must be 20 kilowatts or less; must be owned or leased by the customer-generator; and must meet all interconnection, performance, safety, and reliability standards required by Duke.

More details HERE.

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