South Carolina considers solar property-tax abatement

South Carolina’s Senate moved last week to make solar installations more attractive to businesses by providing property-tax breaks for installations.

The Renewable Energy Economic Development Bill (S. 44), which now moves on to the state’s House of Representatives, would allow residential solar owners to receive  an 80% property-tax abatement following the installation of a qualifying solar installation of up to 20 kW.

The abatement applies to any system installed after 2012 and can be taken for 10 years. Homeowners earn the credit in the first year the system is placed into service, but the rebates are taken in five equal annual installments.

“S.44 promotes economic growth and creates the opportunity for numerous renewable energy jobs to South Carolina by lowering property tax hurdles on renewable energy developments in the state” Bret Sowers, chairman of the South Carolina Solar Business Alliance, told the Greenville (S.C.) Journal.

“This legislation is a signal that South Carolina welcomes the expansion of the clean energy industry. Renewable energy projects will provide counties a substantial increase in discretionary tax revenues without any increased burden on the services they provide,” he added.

South Carolina’s attempt to use tax policy to increase use of renewable energy resources among its citizens is part of a trend that started last year in Florida. In the Sunshine State, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment enshrining a commercial property tax exemption for its businesses. A committee is currently working on a plan to implement the amendment.

Duke Energy began offering South Carolina residents solar-energy rebates in 2015. According to the utilities, it has had more than 750 residential customers and 35 businesses apply for solar rebates since 2015, creating more than 30 MW of solar power and $5 million in rebates.