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Solar Tax Credits & Other Incentives Heat Up Energy-Efficient Demand in South Carolina Construction

With an abundance of sunshine in South Carolina (August’s total solar eclipse notwithstanding), developers and builders are jumping on ways to take advantage of the sun’s rays to provide energy-efficient construction.

Solar panels provide cheap energy, but a major obstacle to mainstream use is the upfront installation cost. The most common residential solar installation – a 5-kilowatt system – costs about $20,000 to install in South Carolina, but generates only about $500 to $1,000 in annual energy savings.

Federal and state tax credits are the most significant tool to offset initial costs, along with rebates and other incentives from private utilities in South Carolina. A lucrative rebate for Duke Energy customers was exhausted at the end of January after falling victim to its own popularity. The utility offered a $5,000 annual rebate for the average household by paying $1 per watt of energy generated from solar panels. Another program for South Carolina Electric & Gas customers offered performance payments of up to 4 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated from solar panels. It expired at the end of 2016. 

Still, South Carolina users enjoy some of the best tax credits in the country and may be able to take advantage of new legislation pending in the House.  

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Forming an LLC? Don’t Forget to Have “The Talk”

About two-thirds of all new businesses in the U.S. start out as LLCs, or limited liability corporations. Entrepreneurs recognize that LLCs combine the protections of a traditional corporation with the operating flexibility that small businesses need. 

We’re big fans of LLCs, but they are not without potential pitfalls. When there are problems, it’s usually because the LLC members were in a hurry at the outset, and didn’t take advantage of all the safeguards and flexibility this business formation entity allows.

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Your Right to be Free of Your Neighbor’s Water

Almost any change that people make to the natural landscape can alter the flow of surface water, and that often creates problems that grow into legal disputes. It’s an area where property rights, nature and engineering intersect in unpredictable ways.

A new subdivision, parking lot, expansion of a building or even change in the use of rural land can result in water washing out a neighbor’s lawn, flooding homes, attracting mosquitos in standing pools, depositing silt on a golf course, polluting a backyard pond or rendering crop land less profitable. While we typically see these problems emerge in urban developments, disputes can arise anywhere water flows. 

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Eminent Domain in South Carolina:  Don’t Sell until the Price is Right

Property owners in South Carolina no longer have to fear that their land will be taken from them for an economic development project. Voters put the brakes on what they saw as the abuse of eminent domain in 2006 with a constitutional amendment that forbids the use of eminent domain for economic development.

Nonetheless, eminent domain is alive and well for other purposes in South Carolina, and here’s what you need to know.

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LLC or Corporation? Which Is Right for Your New Business?

For most entrepreneurs, the choice of business entity comes down to an LLC or corporation, since both insulate personal assets from liability claims. LLCs, S corporations and C corporations all have advantages, depending on your business goals. 

Generally, the comparisons among the three will center on taxes, operating flexibility and treatment of investors and shareholders. 

Here’s a quick overview of these three alternatives that will give you a starting point for considering your options before you talk to your attorney. 

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Don’t Misunderstand the Memorandum of Understanding

Can a city change its mind about development partners after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU)? 

That question bounced around in South Carolina courts for a decade, and the state Supreme Court issued the final answer last summer. A city – or any party – may back out of an “understanding” that doesn’t include a definitive agreement. 

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