SOUTH CAROLINA – On June 19, the parties involved in the Public Service Commission net metering docket 2005-385-E signed a settlement agreement to improve the terms of net metering in the state. The settlement was signed by the individual intervenors, the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) and the investor-owned utilities in the state (Progress, Duke and SCE&G). The agreement specifies that affected utilities will:
· Standardize the net metering program structure for uniformity among the three utilities;
· Modify the flat rate option for residential customers to reflect 1:1 standard retail rates for excess energy credits;
· Eliminate stand-by charges for residential customers;
· Allow renewable energy generators to retain ownership of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) until a market for RECs is fully developed. After a market is developed, then, annually, any RECs associated with net excess generation (NEG) will be granted to the utilities when the NEG balance is set to zero;
· Report annually to ORS and the SC Energy Office the number of net metering customers by renewable energy generator type;
The agreement also states that the net metering process and recommendations should be reviewed within four years.
Previously SC utilities were operating under a vague PSC directive that required utilities to offer net metering but did not specify any terms beyond that. This resulted in an experimental net metering program offered by each of the investor-owned utilities. This agreement, if accepted by the PSC, will greatly standardize and legitimize net metering in South Carolina.
The PSC scheduled an open hearing for Tuesday, June 30, 2009 for the Commission to review the net metering pilot program to determine whether changes to the program are warranted.