Are solar panels worth it in South Carolina?

Updated

grass and buildings

SolarReviews' solar calculator found that in 2023, a 6 kilowatt (kW) residential rooftop solar system has an average cost of $18,000 before incentives are put into place. With the 30% federal tax credit alone, that cost shrinks to $12,600. Then, there's South Carolina’s 25% statewide solar tax credit, which maxes out at $3,500 a year. At that rate, a homeowner in South Carolina can expect to pay off the price of a solar system installation within 5 to 8 years.

Incentives and solar rebates in South Carolina

With a properly sized rooftop solar system, a homeowner can wipe out most, if not all of their electric costs. For instance, a 5 kW solar system would cost an average $83 per month, saving a homeowner $28,900 in electric bills - enough to buy a nice, new car.

2023 is one of the best years to go solar in South Carolina for a number of reasons.

  • It's the last year that the federal tax credit is at its full 30% rebate for the cost of a solar system
  • South Carolina has a great statewide solar tax credit that is equal to 25% of the cost of a system
  • Utility companies buy back solar energy sent to the grid

South Carolina's Energy Freedom Act

The bill established that investor-owned utility companies in the state must offer a solar billing program to homeowners who go solar before June 1, 2021, and they must be allowed to stay on that program until May 31, 2029.

However, the law also required utilities to come up with a net metering successor program after June 1, 2021. Duke Energy’s new solar billing program just went into effect in 2022, and it lowered how much solar homeowners can save on their electricity bills.

Calculate how much solar can save you on your electricity bills

Are there any drawbacks to going solar in South Carolina?

One big drawback to solar in South Carolina is that utilities are in the process of changing their net metering programs. As we said earlier, Duke Energy’s program has already been changed and resulting in lower savings for homeowners. As other utility companies jump on the bandwagon, solar won’t be the same great investment it once was.

South Carolina also lacks a statewide interconnection standard (or requirement), meaning utilities have free reign in regard to setting their own requirements and charges. 

The Southern Environmental Law Center has a nifty tool that allows users to see whether or not a utility in South Carolina charges these fees and how much they add up. Over a 30-year lifespan, those fees could accumulate to over $8,600, the tool found

The tool calculates net metering rates for various utilities, as well.

How can I save more on energy in South Carolina?

A local installer can provide you with an accurate cost-benefit analysis. They'll be able to tell you about any financing options you may be eligible for as well, including solar loans or leases. A good financing option can help reduce the cost of going solar in South Carolina significantly.

Another important yet often-overlooked component when considering installing solar panels for your home is energy-efficient upgrades. By replacing old light bulbs and appliances, you can reduce your energy use even more - on top of maximizing the payback on energy that is net metered through your solar system and sent back to the grid.

Calculate what the solar payback period is for your home
 - Author of Solar Reviews

Chris Meehan

Veteran Solar Technology Journalist

Chris Meehan is a freelance writer for SolarReviews

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