Solar Leases in South Carolina Get Property Tax Exemption
Monday, May 17 2021
COLUMBIA, SC and WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, South Carolina’s state legislature passed H. 3354, which exempts leased and third party owned residential solar systems from property taxes. This exemption is already in place for solar customers that own their systems. The new legislation puts all solar customers on equal footing when it comes to tax treatment.
H. 3354 prevents solar customers from getting double taxed and will help to support South Carolina’s growing rooftop solar market.
“H. 3354 will send a strong signal that South Carolina’s rooftop solar market is open for business,” said Will Giese, Southeast regional director at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This law will ultimately help to attract even more solar businesses to South Carolina and support our communities with private investment and local job opportunities. We urge Governor McMaster to sign this bill into law so that South Carolina can continue to be both a national and regional leader on rooftop solar.”
The property tax changes align with the legislative intent of the Energy Freedom Act, passed in 2019, to protect South Carolina solar customers and preserve their choice to freely access solar power. Representative Ballentine (District 71), is a champion of H 3354 and the landmark Energy Freedom Act.
“Rooftop solar gives South Carolinians the ability to generate their own electricity in an affordable and reliable manner,” said South Carolina State Representative Nathan Ballentine. “This year, I proudly sponsored H. 3354, a bill that protects consumers from seeing tax increases on their solar panels. Thank you to my colleagues in the General Assembly for voting overwhelmingly to pass this rooftop solar property tax exemption and ensuring that we keep our taxes low in South Carolina.”
In South Carolina, the property taxes associated with solar leases and third party-owned systems have created a disincentive for potential solar customers. The changes in H 3354 could unleash the economic benefits of rooftop solar across the Palmetto state. Leasing and third-party ownership models can greatly expand rooftop solar accessibility because they help to minimize upfront costs and customers can see savings on their electricity bills right away.
"We are encouraged that the South Carolina legislature once again stood on the side of energy choice,” said Tyson Grinstead, policy director at Sunrun. “H. 3354 will provide protection against higher taxes for our customers and help to expand access to solar in the Palmetto State."
The property tax change comes on the heels of a significant decision on net metering from the South Carolina Public Service Commission in late April. The commission unanimously rejected Dominion’s proposal which would have resulted in excessive fixed and variable charges for rooftop solar customers. Instead, the commission adopted SEIA’s joint proposal and preserved net metering in South Carolina.
Taken together, the policies underscore the value of local, resilient solar energy for all South Carolinians, while also emphasizing customer choice and energy freedom.
The bill, which received near unanimous support, now moves to Governor McMaster for signature.
The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) is leading the transformation to a clean energy economy, creating the framework for solar to achieve 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners to fight for policies that create jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of reliable, low-cost solar power. Founded in 1974, SEIA is the national trade association for the solar and solar + storage industries, building a comprehensive vision for the Solar+ Decade through research, education and advocacy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org and follow @SEIA on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Jen Bristol, SEIA's Director of Communications, [email protected] (202) 556-2886