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Important Solar Legislation On Hold With State Lawmakers

South Carolina solar industry members are holding their breath. An important piece of legislation has been introduced to state lawmakers that, when approved, will open the floodgates on construction of renewable power plants and billions of dollars in additional tax revenues for counties all across the state.

Tax Reform Bill Would Benefit Everyone In South Carolina

Sun-rich states all over the U.S. have realized the economic potential that solar energy brings with it, and have aggressively pursued the opportunity to harness this resource. For example, in 2008 the North Carolina legislature enacted a renewable energy property tax exemption. In less than seven years, North Carolina went from a state with solar power being nearly nonexistent to ranking second for solar energy capacity. North Carolina has been called the “South’s leader in solar power.” To our southwest, Georgia is making significant strides as well, landing just outside the top five nationally in solar capacity.

In 2015, a paltry $10 million went towards investment in solar installations in South Carolina, compared to $311 million in Georgia and a whopping $1.69 billion in North Carolina.

But South Carolina lawmakers have the power to change this state of affairs. The Renewable Energy Jobs and Economic Development Bill (S. 44/H.3079) would allow unused or agricultural land to be turned into utility scale solar farms and similarly exempt the value of renewable energy resource property for residential use. The South Carolina Senate has already passed the bill, but action needs to be taken in the House to allow our state to unleash the potential for solar investment that can come to South Carolina.

Estimates indicate that within three years of the bill becoming law, more than 90 solar projects could be installed across the Palmetto State, over $1 Billion dollars of investment.

A higher tax base means more revenue for counties all across our state. The open fields where solar farms are built currently pay about $50 a year in property taxes, while in the first year alone an average solar farm would generate $35,000 that could go towards our schools, roads and local services in the community.

Solar investments will also bring quality jobs to South Carolina. A recent report on the solar industry in North Carolina identified a “value chain” spanning over 450 companies which arose as a result of similar legislation. Taken together, this chain employs over 4,500 people. With over 1,000 solar jobs added in South Carolina in 2016, imagine what our state could do with a solar-friendly framework!

South Carolina’s lawmakers have before them an opportunity that will truly revolutionize the way South Carolina does business. By putting the state’s solar industry on equal regulatory and tax footing as our neighbors, the Renewable Energy Jobs and Economic Development Bill will create thousands of solar industry jobs, generate revenues for local communities, and attract new investments, and convince business to set up shop and expand existing business in South Carolina.

While there may be many legislative items vying for the attention of the South Carolina House, this is one that cannot and should not be ignored. Solar energy technology has been improving steadily, and the time is now for South Carolina to harness that opportunity.

Speak Up For More Solar In South Carolina

Speak up if you want MORE SOLAR in South Carolina! Tell your representatives to support S.44 TODAY! Click the link below, type in your address, and contact your legislators to let them know you support S.44/H.3079 and want MORE SOLAR!

Contact Your South Carolina Legislator

What Happens To A Solar Power System During A Grid Blackout?

A frequently asked question that we receive about solar is, “Will my system provide electricity during a storm or hurricane if there is a power outage?”

While you might assume that your solar system will still power your lights and electricity when the grid is down, the truth is, it depends on the specific type of system that you own. To shed some light on this important topic, here’s our analysis of what happens with solar when there is a blackout.

Solar Power During Storms, Hurricanes, And Blackouts

The most likely result is that, if and when the grid goes down, the solar array shuts down as well. This is due to a National Electric Code (NEC) which says that the system must shut down rapidly for safety.

NEC was put in place to protect first responders and utility line workers from electric shock in the event of an emergency. If the power source – your photovoltaic solar panels – continued to be energized when the sun was shining, it could generate and send solar electricity into the power grid and potentially electrocute persons working to restore power after a blackout.

So per the NEC code, the inverter is designed to shut down during a blackout or loss of grid power. Without a functioning inverter, not a single electron will flow in to or out of the house.

This is the case with grid-tied solar power installations, which are about 99% of the systems installed in America. However, there are exceptions.

Exception 1: Battery Backup With AC Coupling

AC coupling is a method whereby the energy generated from solar can be stored in a battery and used independently from the grid. Enphase Energy can be used with the addition of an AC coupled inverter to provide an energy storage solution. Not only can this be implemented on new installs, but this can also be done as a retrofit to existing Enphase systems. Enphase is a name you might recognize if you own a solar system that uses microinverters, or the small inverters located at the back of each solar panel.

AC coupling is a relatively new technology, but will become more and more popular in the future as utilities change the way they charge their users for power, like with time of use (TOU) billing tiers being implemented in California and Hawaii. In this scenario an AC coupled solar power system could be programmed to store solar energy when rates are low, using it to power the home when utility rates are at their highest later in the day (a term referred to as ‘peak shaving’ or ‘rate arbitration’).

Happy Solar Homeowners Across South Carolina

The below customer reviews were all originally posted on SolarReviews.com, a website dedicated to informing consumers about the performance of local solar installers, and to promoting positive experiences in solar as we move toward a zero-footprint future.

Homeowners Going Solar In South Carolina With Southern Current

“I had researched for over a year and had quotes from 3 different companies when I decided to pull the trigger. All 3 were well reviewed, but in the end the quality of the panels, racking system and inverter were just a superior product. On top of that the installed price per watt was around 15% less than other bids. From sales, to planning, to installation; everyone was a real pleasure to work with, kept me well informed throughout the process and were quick to respond to any questions I had. Just a terrific experience. I am 6 months in and am beyond happy with my system!”

“The installers were very courteous, professional and obviously experts in what they do. Within a two day period they worked through the rain and cold to get my system up and running. They cleaned up everything and double checked for leaks and functionality. My wife and I were both very pleased with their attention to detail and kindness. I know I asked a million questions and they answered them all with a smile. “

“It was truly a pleasant experience and am recommending them to everyone I know. I took a bunch of pictures of the progress if anyone wants a copy I will send them gladly. The booklet they gave me with all the information on tax credits and the environmental benefits of going solar was very informative and I enjoyed seeing how my usage will be impacted once my system is online. I am so happy things worked out as well as they did, they have my full support.”

We had a great experience with Southern Current. They provided several references, who all were pleased with the work they did and the return on their electric bill, so we hired them with confidence and were not disappointed. Honest folks who do good work and keep promises.”

Learn More About Solar Power In South Carolina!

These customer reviews are just a few of the many, many great things homeowners are saying about going solar in South Carolina and saving a boatload of money (and the environment) with Southern Current.

Be sure to view the Southern Current solar install gallery to see home solar panel installations near you, and contact the best solar company in South Carolina when you are ready to schedule a FREE consultation about powering your home with sunshine!