Duke Energy and a group of environmental and solar industry groups have announced several programs to expand solar power in South Carolina, a state where little currently exists.
Under the agreement, Duke will buy 25 times the solar power it currently has in South Carolina. Rebates the company will offer to customers who want to put solar panels on their rooftops will roughly double that amount. Customers in apartments and community groups could also buy into solar programs. All told, it’s an exponential increase.
Still, the total amount would equal about a third of what a small coal plant produces. Nevertheless, Duke Energy’s South Carolina spokesman Ryan Mosier says it’s a step forward.
"This is the big piece. This is the one that really shows what we want to do with solar," Mosier says.
And in an unlikely pairing, solar companies agree.
"Right now it’s definitely an opportunity to have solar become more of a mainstream power source in the Southeast," says Tyson Grinstead of the Alliance for Solar Choice.
That’s a much different tune from North Carolina, a major solar player. In North Carolina, utilities and solar companies are on opposite sides over how much power, and at what cost, utilities should have to buy. That’s because of major regulatory differences in the two states - and a new South Carolina law last year that requires the programs announced Wednesday.