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The South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) has released a directive enabling solar-electric system owners to use net metering to offset their energy costs.

The net metering program - whereby standard electrical meter records the flow of energy back and forth between the customer generator and the utility's power grid - affects all South Carolina investor-owned utilities, such as Duke Energy, Progress Energy, SCANA and Lockhart Energy.

Until Oct. 31, the PSC is evaluating a form of net metering that would allow residential and small commercial customers to have a choice between a flat-rate tariff or a time-of-use tariff with a demand component.

"This tariff should be designed to eliminate, as much as possible, any cross-subsidization of customers," the directive states. "If, after investigation, any utility believes that such a tariff is not feasible, they should explain the reasons for this conclusion in lieu of proposing the requested tariff."

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