Thanks to a new pilot net billing program from their local utility, some South Carolinians will not only have the opportunity to earn money for generating their own renewable energy, but they also may qualify for interest-free loans to finance their green endeavors.

With net billing, Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned electric and water utility (serving more than 160,000 residential and commercial customers in three counties), will pay its residential customers who produce excess renewable energy through solar panels or other means and feed it back into the utility's distribution system.

To make renewable generation more affordable to customers who want to participate but find the start-up costs prohibitive, Santee Cooper will offer zero-interest loans to qualified customers who successfully apply for the special promotion by Oct. 1, 2009, and take service under the RB-07 residential net billing rate. The loan terms apply to residential customer purchase of photovoltaic, wind-powered, micro-hydro, and biomass generating technologies. Customers purchasing photovoltaic technologies can borrow up to $40,000 and take up to 10 years to repay the loan. Loan terms for the other technology will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

“Renewable energy remains a key focus for us as we plan for the growing demand for electricity across the state,” says Lonnie Carter, Santee Cooper president and CEO. “We have been selling green power since 2001. Enlisting our customers to help generate renewable energy is a logical next step as we expand this important program. As South Carolina continues to grow and prosper, we have to keep pace with power demand. Net billing helps us balance the growing energy need with our responsibilities to the environment.”

The net billing rate schedule (RB-07) and the related interconnection standards can be viewed on Santee Cooper's Web site at www.santeecooper.com.