South Carolina solar incentives and net metering
You can save at least 55% off the cost of a home solar system in South Carolina.
South Carolina isn’t known as a major state for home solar, but it should be. With good solar irradiance and great solar incentives, home solar panels are a smart investment for South Carolinians who want to save money and go green.
Summary of solar rebates available to South Carolina residents:
|Federal tax credit||30% off system price through 2019|
|South Carolina Department of Revenue tax credit||25% off system price|
Federal Solar Tax Credit
The federal government offers a tax credit on the installation of a solar photovoltaic system. For homeowners, it’s known as the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit, and the Solar Investment Tax Credit if you are filing a business tax return.
For both homeowners and businesses, the tax credit in 2019 is worth 30% off the total system price, but the credit steps down to 26% in 2020.
This is a huge discount off the cost of home solar, and the most important solar incentive in the United States. To learn more about how it works and how to apply, read our article on solar rebates.
South Carolina Department of Revenue tax credit
On top of the generous federal tax credit, South Carolinians get an additional 25% off the cost of their home solar with a state tax rebate. For the math-challenged, that’s more than half off the cost of home solar, even if you wait until 2020 when the federal rebate drops to 26%.
The tax credit isn’t complicated - it’s just a one page form - but there are a few important details to be aware of.
How much is the SC solar tax credit worth?
As mentioned, the SC state solar tax credit is worth 25% off the price of the system. This is the total system price, which means the full cost of the system, including both labor and hardware. It’s also the cost before you deduct the federal tax credit. Both federal and state tax credits are applied against the gross cost of the system.
Because this can result in a very large tax credit, you might not not be able to use the entire credit in one year. Don’t worry, you won’t waste any of the credit, because you can roll over any usused credits to the following year. You’re allowed to carry over your credits for up to 10 years, which should give you plenty of time to take full advantage of this incentive.
There is a maximum amount of solar tax credit you may claim in any one year: $3,500 or 50% of your tax liability, whichever is less. This means that you won’t be able to reduce your state tax bill to zero with this credit alone.
How to qualify for the SC solar tax credit
Any type of solar energy system qualifies for the SC tax credit, including photovoltaics and solar hot water.
Geothermal and small hydropower systems are included in this tax credit as well.
For homeowners, geothermal will most often mean a geothermal heat pump used for heating or cooling your home. These are highly efficient but tend to have a high upfront cost, so this tax credit is a significant benefit.
Small hydropower means having access to a stream you can use to generate electricity. These are pretty rare, but if one is available to you, it’s a great way to generate clean electricity.
Required equipment certification
For solar energy systems, the system must be certified to qualify for the rebate.
If you have a solar thermal system, you need one certified by the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation.
For solar photovoltaic systems, the certification is very simple. The State Energy Office says the certification is satisfied as long as your utility allows you to interconnect to the grid.
In other words, if your utility approved your system, you automatically qualify for the tax credit.
How to apply
To apply for the South Carolina solar tax credit, use Form TC-38. (Instructions and the form are included in the same document.)
Santee Cooper 2019 Solar Home Program
Santee Cooper is a state-owned electric utility. In 2019, they are offering a substantial rebate program worth up to $7,200 off the cost of a home solar system.
Unfortunately, the deadline for the program is November 30, 2019, so as of the time of writing, you only have a couple weeks left to apply. At this point, there is no indication that the program will be renewed in 2020. We’ll update this article when we know more.
The 2019 rebate is substantial, but tiered according to how early you apply for the rebate. The first customers get a rebate of $1,200 per kilowatt, but later customers get only $600 per kW - half as much, but still substantial.
Here are the tiers:
|1 - 150||$1,200/kW ($7,200 max)|
|151 - 200||$900/kW ($5,400 max)|
|200 +||$600/kW ($3,600 max)|
This rebate has had more than 200 participants, so new applicants will get the $600/kW rebate.
Net metering in South Carolina
The three investor-owned utility companies (Dominion Energy, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Duke Energy Progress) currently offer net metering. This means that any solar electricity you send into the grid will be credited at the full retail rate. Read our guide to net metering to learn more about this.
If your utility is Santee Cooper, a municipal utility, or cooperative, check with them to see if net metering is offered. Here’s a list of South Carolina electric cooperatives.