Mayor Benjamin and City Council to proclaim “Solarize Columbia Day”

September 2, 2015

New partnership is the latest step towards a greener more sustainable Columbia


COLUMBIA, SC – Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin and City Council will issue a proclamation today making the City of Columbia the most recent South Carolina community to embrace the Solarize South Carolina Campaign.

The Proclamation announces the partnership between the City of Columbia, Solarize South Carolina, and the nonprofit SmartPower. The city is now the first municipality in the Midlands to officially participate the new, statewide, residential solar power initiative.

Solarize South Carolina is a community outreach program designed to help Columbia residents go solar and save on electricity costs. When 60 or more Columbian residents sign a contract for solar before January 31, 2016, the City will earn a free 5 kW solar system for any of its municipal buildings.

Solarize South Carolina is an initiative of the nonprofit organization SmartPower ( and solar financing company Dividend Solar. Solarize South Carolina’s goal is to outfit 2,000 homes across the state with solar over the next 18 months. Operating statewide, Solarize South Carolina hopes to triple the amount of residential solar, helping homeowners save money and creating new jobs across the state.

“Columbia is proud to be a statewide leader in Solarize South Carolina,” said Columbia Mayor Stephen Benjamin.  “Working together with SmartPower and all our local community organizations, we will help make Columbia – and South Carolina – a true leader in solar power!”

This is the latest in a series of green initiatives for the City of Columbia which include installing electric car charging pods in city parking garages and energy efficient lighting in city buildings as well as encouraging green commuting, keeping 13 tons of electronics out of landfills through the E-waste recycling program and working to protect our waterways and drinking water by recycling 400 gallons of used cooking oil through the Southern Fried Fuel initiative. Now the City will be taking the next step to promote using the cleanest resource we have that residents feel every day – the sun.

Solarize Columbia will accelerate the adoption of solar and increase public awareness of new solar-friendly state rules that allow net metering, giving significant financial advantage to residents who go solar.

Solarize South Carolina makes it even easier for residents to go solar by offering a zero-down financing option to make solar more affordable, allowing homeowners to save immediately on energy bills. By signing up on the Solarize SC website (, homeowners will be able to quickly find out if their home is compatible for solar with a free, no obligation solar assessment by a pre-screened local installer.  Residents should check “Columbia” under Affiliation to ensure that the City gets credit for customers who go solar.

The Net-Metering program from SCE&G credits the renewable energy producer at the same rate the utility charges for service. The excess energy that is not used by the producer is then pushed back into the energy grid at the same rate. The newly enacted Net-Metering 2.0 will still credit the producer at the same rate, but will now buy all produced energy at a wholesale rate.

“If you have ever thought about going solar, there’s never been a better time,” said Sara Hummel Rajca, SmartPower’s Community Outreach Manager for Solarize South Carolina. “With Columbia’s leadership, tax incentives, low cost financing, and all our neighbors joining in this community campaign, going solar just makes sense!”

Solarize Columbia kicks off with its first event September 3. For more information about Solarize South Carolina and Solarize Columbia, contact Solarize South Carolina Community Outreach Manager Sara Hummel Rajca at [email protected].

Residents who want to see if their home is good for solar can get started at

Upcoming Solarize South Carolina Events:

Sept. 3: The Basics of Solar at Richland Library Northeast, 6:30-8 p.m.

Sept. 10: The Basics of Solar at University of South Carolina Green Quad, 6:30-8 p.m.

Sept. 12: Solar Info Table at Soda City Farmers Market, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Sept. 16: The Basics of Solar at Richland Library Southeast, 6:30-8 p.m.

Sept. 19: Solar Info Table at National Drive Electric Week at Whole Foods, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Sept. 23: Solar Lunch Break at University of South Carolina Green Quad, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

Sept. 30: The Basics of Solar at Richland Library Cooper, 6:30-8 p.m.