SC Representative Nathan Ballentine discusses the Energy Freedom Act

August 19, 2019

The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act will provide more energy choice, increase competition within the state energy market and expand rooftop solar energy by removing the existing 2% net-metering cap allowing solar customers to be compensated fairly for the energy they produce and send back to the grid.  Most importantly, this bill will save more than 3,000 solar jobs already created in South Carolina.

One of the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act’s key champions, Representative Nathan Ballentine, took a minute to speak with us about the Energy Freedom Act and what it means for South Carolinians.

See Representatives Nathan Ballentine’s comments below.

SC ENERGY FREEDOM ACT SUMMARY

  • Renewable Energy Programs
    • Small Power Producers/Power Purchase Agreements: Review Standard Offer, Avoided Cost Methodology, Form Contract PPA, Commitment to Sell Forms
      • Deadline for PSC Decision 11/18/2019
      • And review every 24 months thereafter (next deadline is 11/18/2021)
      • PSC authorized to open a generic docket to create programs for competitive procurement of energy and capacity from renewable energy facilities
  • Voluntary Renewable Energy Program/Green Tariffs – Each electrical utility shall file program for review and approval by PSC. Deadline for filing: 9/13/2019. No specified deadline for PSC order. If utility already has a green tariff that conforms, the utility is not required to make a new filing.
  • Community Solar Program – Deadline for PSC to open a docket to review programs and solicit status update: July 5, 2019 and by January 2, 2020, utilities shall update existing programs and may propose new ones.

Customer Rights

  • Right to a rate schedule offering a reasonable opportunity to use energy and cost savings measures
  • Each class of service a minimum of one reasonable rate option that aligns customer’s ability to achieve savings with long-term reductions in overall cost incurred to providing electric service, including time-variant pricing structures.
  • Right to obtain own electric usage data in a machine-reasonable, accessible format to the extent readily available, and allow the sharing of data with a third-party vendor.

Net Metering/Solar Choice Metering

  • Extends 1:1 rate for those who apply before 6/1/2021 thru 5/31/2029
  • By 1/1/2020, PSC must open a docket to review NEM, establish a methodology to calculate the VOS (Value of Solar)
  • New Solar Choice Metering Tariff effective 6/1/2021 for those who apply on and after 6/1/2021

Integrated Resource Plans

  • IOUs must prepare and submit an IRP at least every 3 years
  • PSC must issue an order within 300 days of filing of IRP
  • If the PSC modifies or rejects the IRP, utility has 60 days to refile; ORS has 60 days from the utility’s revised IRP filing to submit a report; PSC has 60 days from the filing of ORS report to rule.
  • IOUS must provide annual updates to IRP
  • ORS reviews each annual update and submits a report to the PSC (no deadline specified)

Integration Study

  • PSC and ORS are authorized to initiate an independent study to evaluate integration of renewable energy and emerging technologies into the grid for the public interest. No deadline specified.

Revisions to Siting Act

  • Requires demonstration before the PSC that any generating facility greater than 75 MW built in SC has been compared to other forms of generation in terms of cost, reliability, and other considerations.
  • PSC may require independent evaluator retained by ORS to review reasonableness of any CPCN (Certificates of environmental compatibility and public convenience and necessity) sought, report on process, review final bids, determine whether the proposed generation to be built is consistent with IRP, and nondiscriminatory process.

Interconnection Standards

  • PSC shall by November 18, 2019 establish proceedings to consider revisions to the Interconnection Standards (no deadline specified for order)
  • Interconnection Complaints – can use dispute resolution. PSC must issue an order within 6 months of filing of the complaint.

Consumer Protection Regulations

  • Department of Consumer Affairs and ORS are to develop consumer protections regarding the sale or lease of renewable generation facilities and shall provide for appropriate disclosure by sellers and lessors
  • ORS shall develop a formal complaint process
  • ORS is authorized to enforce the consumer protection provision by:
    • Conducting an investigation into an alleged violation
    • Issuing a cease and desist order against further violation
    • Imposing an administrative fine not to exceed $2,500 per violation
    • Voiding the agreement if necessary to remedy the violation or violations
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