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Dominion Energy proposes new solar energy fees in South Carolina

Local business owners are concerned that the new fees could harm solar industry.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dominion Energy South Carolina held a hearing with the Public Service Commission on Tuesday regarding the establishment of new solar choice metering tariffs in the state.

The new tariffs come at the directive from the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act, signed by Governor McMaster in May 2019. However, some local business owners believe that the proposal by Dominion Energy misses the goal of the Energy Freedom Act and will do more harm than good to the solar industry in South Carolina.

Frank Knapp is one of the individuals concerned with the proposed tariffs. He is the President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and also owns two commercial buildings that use solar energy.

"It needs to be done but it needs to be done in a fair way that will continue to promote the use of solar panels on rooftops to save energy and to stop carbon pollution that people and businesses can take," Knapp tells News 19. "But if it's so draconian, the new tariffs that Dominion is offering, that no one will want to do it, well we've basically said goodbye to the solar industry in South Carolina."

The biggest concerns with the new fees include a subscription fee for solar energy customers as well as a change in the netting period of energy consumption.

According to Dominion Energy, these new tariffs are necessary to make sure non-solar customers do not suffer from subsidization when solar is added to the system.

In a statement to News 19, Dominion Energy said in part "The approximately 11,000 Dominion Energy customers in South Carolina who use solar on their property also export a lot of it back to the grid. This means about 740,000 non-solar customers have to pay for maintaining power lines, generation stations and all other associated costs - while also paying for more cost-efficient energy their utility is producing."

Dominion Energy goes on to say that they "agree with solar developers on the importance of solar growth in South Carolina, but we can't forget about so many who are struggling financially."

A virtual public hearing for the proposed new fees is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23rd with the Public Service Commission.