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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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Eminent Domain in South Carolina: What Happens When the Government Wants Your Land?

South Carolina property owners and businesses have taken notice of recent actions across the state where the government is using eminent domain authority to clear the way for roads, infrastructure and other public uses.

Although a state constitutional amendment in 2006 prohibited the use of eminent domain for economic development, eminent domain is on the table for other uses and has been viewed as a bargaining tool for municipalities to accelerate the sale of coveted land.

Negotiations to acquire property for a library and museum in Myrtle Beach are continuing after the city council in February allowed the city manager to use eminent domain, if necessary, to force the sale of two downtown parcels.

In April, the Charleston City Council authorized the use of eminent domain to acquire the site of a former supermarket for a new intersection and park. One month later, the city reached an agreement with the developer to purchase the 2-1/2-acre site for $3 million.

And plans for Interstate 73, which aims to connect Myrtle Beach to North Carolina and up to Michigan, could involve more right-of-way acquisitions across South Carolina.

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Businesses Collecting Purchased Debt Get Relief In Supreme Court Ruling

A June 12, 2017, U.S. Supreme Court ruling means businesses have less to worry about from regulations designed to protect consumers from abusive and deceptive practices when attempting to collect their own debts.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) authorizes private lawsuits and weighty fines to deter the wayward practices of debt collectors. In the high court’s view, “debt collector” refers to a third-party servicer collecting debts on behalf of a creditor. A bank or other provider that originates a loan and tries to collect the debt itself is not a debt collector and therefore is not bound by the FDCPA.

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If Your Business Loan is in Trouble, You Can Prevent a Bad Situation from Getting Worse

A business owner with visions of growth doesn’t borrow money thinking he or she won’t be able to pay it back. Sometimes, though, dreams don’t go according to plan.

When loan payments are late or missed or stop altogether, a loan will go into default, meaning the borrower hasn’t met his or her obligations when it comes to the agreement to repay. As difficult as that may be for a business to face, the situation won’t just go away by ignoring it.

Most business loans involve real estate, but they may also be secured with equipment or inventory as collateral. Defaulting on a loan places those assets at risk of foreclosure or liquidation.

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South Carolina Auto Liability Case May Set New Bar For Awarding Damages

Questions before the South Carolina Supreme Court could change whether negligence in causing a car accident now may be considered in awarding damages for injuries allegedly caused by a vehicle’s design flaw.

The answers to questions of state law certified in the federal products liability case Donze v. General Motors hinge on the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision on whether comparative negligence, which apportions damages based on fault, applies in crashworthiness cases.

For years, South Carolina plaintiffs have been able to successfully argue that the circumstances of what caused an accident are irrelevant when considering liability based on crashworthiness, which is the degree to which a vehicle will protect its occupants from the effects of an accident – often referred to as the second collision.

Under the crashworthiness theory in South Carolina, a manufacturer can be held responsible for a design flaw of the vehicle that enhances or aggravates the injuries above and beyond those from the initial collision.

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7 Steps to Prepare Your Business for Sale

Putting your business up for sale is a major decision with implications that extend far beyond the financial considerations. Selling your company affects not only your future but the future of your valued employees. What’s more, letting go of a business you’ve grown for years or even decades can be a difficult process.

First, you need to consider whether you are truly ready to sell your business. Talk to family members and others who care about your future and may have a stake in your decision. Working through any personal concerns before proceeding will make the entire process a lot easier.

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With Moped Law Under Scrutiny, South Carolina Businesses Get a Wake-Up Call

Businesses that sell or rent mopeds and employees who rely on the two-wheeled transportation for work dodged a bullet last year when a proposed South Carolina law on moped restrictions didn't make its way through the state Legislature. Nevertheless, the proposal's goals should serve as a wake-up call for South Carolina businesses to take appropriate action to protect their employees, assets, and the community.

Last year, the South Carolina Legislature considered Bill H3440 that would have made substantial changes to South Carolina moped law but it ultimately failed to pass. Similar moped regulations have been proposed again this year.

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Prevent Workers’ Comp Claims By Understanding How To Manage Risks

Accidents will happen – about 23,000 times a day in U.S. workplaces, on average, according to one study.

Workers’ compensation insurance pays for occupational injury and illness claims, and that typically protects businesses from defending against personal injury claims brought by employees. In South Carolina, which has a “no-fault” system, it doesn’t matter who is to blame for the workplace injury for a valid claim to be paid.

Although workers’ comp insurance covers an injured employee’s medical expenses and disability pay, the hidden costs for businesses are significant. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration calculates that lost productivity, higher insurance premiums and other indirect costs can total up to four times the cost of the workers’ comp claim itself.

With costs related to occupational injuries and deaths adding up to $192 billion annually, a plan to manage those risks is essential for every business.

First and foremost, employers must develop a culture of safety. OSHA says workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.

Changing an organization’s culture is not often easy, so leadership is critical to achieve buy-in from employees throughout the organization. Whether it’s a small business or large corporation, the message that safety is a primary concern must come from the top down.

A risk management plan can minimize workers’ comp costs in three ways: limiting opportunities for risk by controlling who comes through your door, identifying and fixing problems before something happens and managing additional risks once an accident occurs.

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