Tesla-owned SolarCity today announced their withdrawal from the rooftop solar market in South Carolina, less than a year after entering the market. The announcement is surprising given the state’s status of being a growing market for solar and the recent adoption of net metering. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) currently ranks South Carolina 27th in the nation for solar power. In 2016, 106.5 MW of solar was installed and SEIA projects that 1,888 MW will be installed in the next five years.
So what does Tesla leaving South Carolina mean for the future of solar in the state? Despite the announcement, we remain very optimistic about the future of South Carolina solar – specifically community solar.
Earlier this month, Clean Energy Collective announced a strategic partnership with South Carolina Electric and Gas Company (SCE&G) that is bringing new, affordable community solar options to the state. The 16 MW project is the largest in South Carolina history and will make solar energy generation accessible to eligible SCE&G residential and commercial customers who cannot, or do not wish to, install rooftop solar panels.
“There is a growing renewable energy movement in South Carolina, particularly with community solar,” said Paul Spencer, chief executive officer of Clean Energy Collective. “Community solar is a renewable energy solution that makes solar power generation accessible to all, and our partnership with SCE&G is an important first step in bringing community solar to South Carolina on a large scale.”
SCE&G was interested in a community solar partnership as they were receiving consistent customer feedback inquiring about increased solar options.
“We often hear from customers who desire the cost savings and environmental benefits of solar energy, so we’re really proud to bring those advantages to even more customers,” said Danny Kassis, vice president of customer service and renewables for SCE&G. “For some customers, this program creates a pathway to solar energy where there wasn’t one before.”
SCE&G residential and commercial customers, such as churches, schools and municipalities, can sign up for the new community solar program. Isle of Palms is one of the municipalities within the SCE&G service area that recently signed up for the program. As soon as the Clean Energy Collective-built arrays are interconnected to the SCE&G electricity grid – possibly as early as December 2017 – the city will receive a credit for every kilowatt-hour produced by a portion of the panels.