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South Carolina Energy Freedom Act

Solar installation on top of a building

Act 62, known as the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act, was passed by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2019 and signed by the Governor on May 16, 2019. This Act addresses many topics around renewable energy programs and how utilities plan for future energy needs (utility resource planning).


Electrical Utility Customer Rights and Consumer Protection Regulations

(Sections 58-27-845 and 58-27-2660)

The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act includes various protections and rights for consumers:

  • Directs the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSC) to protect customers from rising costs and to provide customers with opportunities to reduce or manage their own energy usage
  • Grants customers the right to electric rates that enable energy efficiency, demand response, or onsite distributed energy resources (DERs) to reduce their electricity usage
  • Grants customers the right to obtain and use data collected by a utility on their individual energy consumption and, upon assent from the customer, allows data sharing with a third-party vendor
  • In cooperation with the SC Department of Consumer Affairs, directs the ORS to develop consumer protection regulations regarding the sale or lease of renewable energy generation facilities. This includes developing a formal complaint process, conducting an investigation into an alleged violation, issuing a cease-and-desist order against a further violation, imposing fines, and/or voiding agreements. This may also include requiring certain disclosure requirements by solar companies.

Solar Leasing Consumer Protection Regulations

SC Department of Consumer Affairs

Marketing Pamphlet (PDF) - This pamphlet explains the rights and responsibilities of consumers who are marketed renewable energy facilities, including solar. 

Standard Disclosure (PDF) - The standard disclosure is used in the sale or lease of renewable energy facilities, including solar.


Solar Choice Metering Tariffs

(Sections 58-40-10, 58-40-20, and 58-27-2610)

Net metering allows customers with solar panels (or other forms of renewable energy) to cover some or all of their monthly electric bills with energy they generate. Credit for any excess energy generated beyond what they use in a month is currently carried over to their next month’s bill.

  • Customer-generators who applied for net metering before May 16, 2019, will receive credit at the full retail electric rate until December 31, 2025.
  • Customer-generators who applied for net metering between May 16, 2019 and May 31, 2021, will receive credit at the full retail electric rate until May 31, 2029.
  • Beginning June 1, 2021, “Solar Choice Metering Tariffs” will go into effect. The PSC will determine the value of energy provided by customer-generators and the number of years customer-generators may receive the tariff, as well as the billing mechanism and energy measurement interval.

Residential Solar Choice Rates- ORS Overview (PDF)

Non-Residential Solar Choice Rates- ORS Overview (PDF)

Dockets


Neighborhood Community Solar

(Sections 58-41-40)

Electric service providers are encouraged to offer neighborhood community solar programs.  Any participating customers must cover all program costs and ensure that no cost is shifted to non-participating customers. The PSC is directed to promote access to solar energy projects for low- and moderate-income customers.

Dockets


Small Power Producers and Utility Generation Resource Procurement

(Sections 58-41-20, 58-41-20, and 58-33-110)

The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act authorizes the PSC to open a generic docket to create programs for the competitive procurement of energy and capacity from renewable energy facilities by an electrical utility if the PSC determines such action to be in the public interest.

Act 62 also streamlines the contract process for small power producers under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and requires the PSC to approve each utility’s;

  • standard offer (up to 2 MW),
  • form contract power purchase agreements (PPAs) (above 2 MW),
  • avoided cost methodologies, and
  • commitment-to-sell forms.

The PSC is authorized to utilize third-party consultants to evaluate avoided cost calculations provided by utilities and must consider whether PPAs should prohibit lower prices or include protection of smaller power producers. 

Solar, Avoided Cost, and Electricity Rates— How Power Purchased by Utilities Can Impact Consumers

Dockets


Voluntary Renewable Energy Programs

(Section 58-41-30)

A voluntary renewable energy program is a tariff filed with the PSC by an electric utility that enables their participating commercial or industrial customers to receive and pay for electric service that reflects the program cost and includes the environmental attributes specified in the customer’s agreement and contract. The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act:

  • Requires utilities to file a voluntary renewable program for commercial and industrial retail customers with a demand of 1 MW or more that will be reviewed and approved by the PSC
  • Allows participating customers to negotiate and contract directly with renewable energy suppliers
  • Requires participating customers to cover all program costs, ensuring no cost shifting to non-participating customers

Dockets


Interconnection Standards

(Section 58-27-460)

The South Carolina Generator Interconnection Standards (SCGIP) dictate how renewable energy systems (like solar panels) can be correctly connected to the electric grid. The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act requires the PSC to consider revisions to the current SCGIP to include energy storage and ensure efficient and timely processing of interconnection requests.

Dockets


Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs)

(Section 58-37-40)

Note: The requirements under this section apply to investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives, municipally owned electric utilities, and Santee Cooper.

An IRP is a capacity plan for electricity that is provided to forecast a utility’s electricity demand, how the demand will be supplied, and what that demand will cost. The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act requires utilities to submit IRPs at least every 3 years and provide annual updates (with some exceptions). Each utility’s IRP must be published on its website and/or the website of the ORS - Energy Office.

Dockets


Integration Study

(Section 58-37-60)

The PSC is authorized to initiate an independent study to evaluate the integration of renewable energy and emerging energy technologies into the electric grid for the public interest.

The PSC provided opportunity for interested parties to offer input on the appropriate scope of the study and solicited comments on a draft report.

Dockets