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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A long debated proposal in South Carolina to expand solar energy has passed its biggest hurdle.

The state Senate unanimously approved the bill Wednesday. They made changes, so it goes back to the House where leaders will encourage representatives to pass the bill Thursday and send it to the governor's desk.

The proposal lifts caps on the number of rooftop solar installations in the state and extends contracts to 10 years to big solar energy producers that can deliver electricity for below the cost of traditional utilities.

The bill guarantees that homeowners or others who generate power with solar panels can sell that power to utilities for a credit.

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Solar energy supporters have pushed hard for the bill and worked with traditional utilities, which opposed the bill in the past.

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