Business owners push back on Dominion Energy’s proposed solar energy tariff

ABC 4 News (WCIV)
February 25, 2021

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by Rachel Ellis

Palmetto State small business advocates believe a new proposal made by Dominion Energy could make it harder to invest in solar energy. They said a “Solar Choice Metering Tariff” could make it more difficult for storefronts and homes to go green.

For the owner of GDC Home, Harry Gregorie he said the net metering proposal could take away from incentives to invest in the environment. Gregorie owns three of the home furnishing stores in the Lowcountry.

He said the Mount Pleasant location is about 50% carbon neutral and counting, and the West Ashley location is 100% carbon neutral.

“We would like to play a meaningful role in a sustainable planet,” Gregorie said.

He added, “What we don’t want to see is Dominion or others charging a premium or reducing that net metering exchange for something that is less attractive.”

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce explained why they believe the new “Solar Choice Metering Tariff” will have consequences.

“Dominion is simply saying that they are not getting enough money from people who have solar panels and using their net metering program,” President and CEO Frank Knapp said.

Knapp said the proposed tariffs are no longer a good business decision for business owners. Though, Dominion Energy disagrees.

A spokesperson said, “The benefits are clear for customers who have the means to choose solar. With the proposed tariff, solar customers can take advantage of a special time-of-use rate plan, which encourages them to conserve energy. It will also align with how the grid really operates. Customers would get a lower rate during off-peak time, which is actually most of the time.

Alan Hancock with the Coastal Conservation League agreed the proposal by Dominion Energy makes solar energy unattainable for many.

“Dominion Energy South Carolina should provide customers an opportunity to lower their power bills through residential rooftop solar. The policy that they have proposed simply doesn’t do that,” Hancock said.

Hancock said that consumers need options and solar is one of the best ways for customers to reduce their electricity bills.

The owner of GDC Home said Dominion Energy needs to do its part.

“Be there as a resource and cooperate with businesses to incentivize and pave the way for a more carbon neutral world,” Gregorie said.

Dominion Energy said it’s solar customers still rely on non-solar energy 75% of the time.

A spokesperson said, “Dominion Energy can’t generate solar power overnight, or on dreary or rainy days, but all of our customers – those with solar and those without – count on us to provide uninterrupted service – even when the sun isn’t shining. The reality is that solar customers on our system still rely on non-solar generating sources 75% of the time, and it’s only fair that they share the costs for safe, reliable generation.”

Dominion Energy is involved in a public hearing this week with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina. The Coastal Conservation League said a hearing on March 23 will give Dominion customers a chance to weigh in on the proposed changes.

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