South Carolina's Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) certified Empower Energies, Inc as the first lessor of renewable electric generation facilities, unlocking the first commercial solar leases in the state’s history. This ground-breaking commercial solar lease enables companies to implement on-site solar projects with no capital expenditure or upfront costs.
This blog provides you more details on the solar leasing program and how it can benefit South Carolina businesses.
Empower Energies has become the first organization ever to be approved for a solar lease in South Carolina, making third-party financing available for the first time to businesses operating in the state.
For many years, third-party financing has enabled businesses in other states to take advantage of lower-cost solar electricity generated on-site. South Carolina’s Distributed Energy Resource Program legislation allows third-party finance by means of a lease structure. States such as New York, New Jersey, Maryland and California allow such financing by means of a similar lease structure or a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
The new program provides businesses with the option to get their power from somewhere other than the electric grid and, in South Carolina, in most cases that power is less expensive.
Lease payments are expected to be 10-15% less than the cost businesses in South Carolina pay for electricity from the utility. Solar leases typically feature a 20-25 year term, providing greater long-term control and predictability of costs. Here are a few of the other program benefits available for the first time to South Carolina businesses:
- Qualified businesses that install new rooftop or ground-mounted solar systems of up to 1,000 kWAC could lower their solar lease payments by 20% to 30% or more
- Commercial customers that install solar arrays before 2021 will receive retail credit for any excess power that flows back onto the electric grid and will be eligible to remain on that rate until December 31, 2025 without any solar-specific charges or fees
- The commercial solar lease from Empower Energies, coupled with the utility incentive programs, can provide the economic benefits of solar energy with no upfront capital expenditures to install the system
With the impending step down of the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is scheduled to drop from 30% to 10% on January 1, 2017, South Carolina’s new program is just in time. Typical completion timelines for most solar projects range from 6-12 months, with a year being closer to the norm. Businesses will need to act quickly to take advantage of the incentives offered by this new program with the ITC step down a mere 14 months away. Adding to the urgency need to act fast is an incentive pool that is limited in size and available on a first-come, first-served basis.