State and Local Policy Database

South Carolina

State Scorecard Rank


South Carolina

11.0Scored out of 50Updated 12/2020
State Government
Score: 4 out of 6
State Government Summary List All

South Carolina has several program targeted at energy-efficient investments. The state government leads by example by requiring energy-efficient public buildings, benchmarking energy use, and encouraging energy savings performance contracts. There are no major research centers focused on energy efficiency in the state.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial incentive information for South Carolina is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE South Carolina).

Last Updated: July 2017

Equity Metrics and Workforce DevelopmentList All

We were unable to determine if the state's energy plans or electrification strategies establish specific policies or equity-related metrics to ensure access for underserved customers or if they include specific measures to prioritize clean energy workforce development.

Last Updated: September 2020

Carbon Pricing PoliciesList All

The State of South Carolina does not yet have carbon pricing policies in place.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Building Energy Disclosure List All

There is no disclosure policy in place.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Public Building Requirements List All

The South Carolina Energy Efficiency Act addresses state government energy conservation. The statute (South Carolina Codes Title 48-52-420) directs the State Energy Office to “ensure that state government agencies establish comprehensive energy efficiency plans and become models for energy efficiency in South Carolina…” and develop energy efficient codes/standards for state-owned and leased buildings, including public school buildings, and requires state agencies and school districts to adhere to these codes. The Energy Office has collected benchmarking data from public agencies, K-12 schools and colleges and universities for over a decade.  This data allows individual organizations to compare their energy use with others of a similar type, and adjust behavior accordingly.

In June 2008, the state enacted additional legislation, H.B. 4766, requiring state agencies and public school districts to reduce energy use by 20% by 2020, from 2000. Training sessions were conducted around the state to assist agencies in developing new or revised energy plans in support of that goal. In addition, the SC Energy Office developed a template that could be used by state agencies and local governments to develop their plans. Benchmarking data collection now also includes qualitative information regarding achievement of the goal, impediments, etc. The state continues to collect benchmarking data for public buildings under the 20% reduction mandate at SC Code SECTION 48-52-610 on an annual basis.  This section requires that state agencies submit their energy use data to the State Energy Office every year. State-leased buildings, as well as other facilities that petition the Energy Office, are excluded from these energy reduction and benchmarking requirements.

Legislation enacted in 2009 (S268) required all agencies to perform an energy audit and a water audit and to implement “cost effective” recommendations by July 2011.

Newly constructed state buildings must meet either the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating "Silver" standard or have two globes according to the Green Globes Rating System for construction.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Fleets List All

State agencies purchasing motor vehicles must give preference to hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric, biodiesel, hydrogen, fuel cell, or flexible fuel vehicles when the performance, quality, and anticipated lifecycle costs are comparable to other available motor vehicles.

Section 1-11-220 (e) requires the Division of Motor Vehicle Management to “acquire motor vehicles offering optimum energy efficiency for the tasks to be performed; 1-11-220 (g) requires it to “improve environmental quality in this State by decreasing the discharge of pollutants.”

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Energy Savings Performance Contracting List All

State legislation (Section 48-52-670) allows agencies to energy into performance contracts. Savings realized from energy conservation measures may be carried forward. The South Carolina Energy Office presents information about ESPCs and offers a manual that lays out the process for interested entities. The Office of the State Engineer makes common contract documents available to simplify the process of performance contracting.

Last Reviewed: September 2020

Research & Development List All

No public research centers have a focus on energy efficiency.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Score: 2.5 out of 9
Buildings Summary List All

Residential and commercial building energy codes reference the 2009 IECC. South Carolina has completed a gap analysis and conducts training and outreach to encourage code compliance.

Residential Codes List All

On January 1, 2013, the 2013 South Carolina Energy Standard became effective. The residential provisions reference the 2009 IECC. Local jurisdictions may adopt more stringent energy codes.

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Commercial Code List All

On January 1, 2013, the 2013 South Carolina Energy Standard became effective. The commercial provisions reference the 2009 IECC as well, including that code’s reference to ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007 as an alternative compliance path. Local jurisdictions may adopt more stringent energy codes.

Last Reviewed: September 2019

Compliance List All
  • Gap Analysis/Strategic Compliance Plan: South Carolina has completed a gap analysis, analyzing the current code implementation efforts in the state and making recommendations for achieving 90% compliance with the model energy code. The state also participates in BCAP’s Compliance Planning Assistance Program and completed a compliance plan in November 2011, providing a five-year roadmap for energy code implementation in the state.
  • Baseline & Updated Compliance Studies: NA
  • Utility Involvement: NA
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group: NA
  • Training/Outreach: The South Carolina Energy Office (SCEO) sponsors training for code compliance. During the past year SCEO supported training on proper duct installation and repair through the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors (SCAHACC), as well as training in code compliance at the SC Homebuilders Association annual meeting. In addition, the office collaborated with SCAHACC, the SC Homebuilders Association and the SC Sustainability Institute to develop and offer Duct and Envelope Tightness verifier training. Based on materials developed by SouthFace, the South Carolina program includes the option of in-person or online training, followed by mandatory field practice and testing for successful certification.

Last Reviewed: September 2019

CHP Summary List All

The state has limited policies in place that encourage CHP deployment. One new CHP system came online in South Carolina in 2018.

Interconnection StandardsList All

Policy: South Carolina PSC Order, Docket No. 2005-387-E

Description: In 2006, the South Carolina Public Service Commission enacted interconnection standards for small distributed generation with a maximum capacity of 100 kW for non-residential systems. The standards do not apply to three-phase generators, and only apply to the state’s four investor-owned utilities. There is a $250 non-residential system application fee as well as minimum $300,000 liability insurance coverage. Redundant external disconnect switches are required. Total interconnection capacity is limited to a maximum of 2% of rated circuit capacity, and there are no codified procedures for dispute resolution.

Last Updated: August 2017

Encouraging CHP as a ResourceList All

There are currently no state policies designed to acquire energy savings from CHP (like other efficiency resources) or energy generation from CHP (in terms of kWh production) that apply to all forms of CHP.

Last Updated: August 2017

Deployment IncentivesList All

Some CHP projects may be eligible for loans from the Conserfund and Conserfund Plus, and the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan programs. These programs offer revolving loans and grant opportunities for projects at public or non-profit facilities and businesses, respectively. However, neither program has made an award for a CHP project to date.

Last Updated: July 2019

Additional Supportive PoliciesList All

Some additional supportive policies to encourage renewable-fueled CHP exist. South Carolina has a Biomass Energy Tax Credit for 25% up to $650,000 for biomass CHP systems.

Last Updated: August 2017

Score: 2 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Along with other states in the Southeast, South Carolina has made progress on utility-sector energy efficiency efforts over the past few years. The levels of energy efficiency program spending and associated energy savings, however, are still below the national average. The state's three investor-owned utilities, Duke Energy, Progress Energy Carolinas (which has merged with Duke Energy), and South Carolina Gas and Electric, all administer energy efficiency programs. South Carolina's cooperative utilities also administer some energy efficiency programs. 

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs List All

In a settlement agreement brokered between energy efficiency advocates and two merging utilities, Progress Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Carolinas, the merging utilities agreed to new energy efficiency programs and targets for the years 2014-2018. The Settlement Agreement, signed in December 2011, sets an annual energy efficiency savings target of 1% of retail sales starting in 2015 and a 7% cumulative target over the 2014-2018 time period for each utility. Achievement of the target will require successful development, regulatory approval, and implementation of energy efficiency programs.

Funding for demand-side management and energy efficiency programs is included in the utilities’ base rates. In April 2010, Senate Bill 1096 authorized electric cooperatives and municipal electric utilities to implement financing systems for energy efficiency improvements.

South Carolina’s electric cooperatives offer customers some programs, including an on-bill financing program that allows members to reduce the upfront cost of energy efficiency investments. Leveraging the cooperatives’ existing relationships with members, the program utilizes funds from USDAs Rural Economic Loans and Grants Program (REDLG) to offer loans to customers, which are paid back on utility bills. The loans are tied to utility bills and the building’s meter, removing split incentives for homeowners who do not wish to stay in their home for the life of the loan. Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina (ECSC) estimates the program will impact 185,000-195,000 homes.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: July 2016

Energy Efficiency as a Resource List All

South Carolina’s investor-owned utilities are required to file integrated resource plans with the Public Service Commission. Some of the utilities operate demand-side management and energy efficiency programs, although such programs are not required in South Carolina. Progress Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy provide energy to both North Carolina and South Carolina and are subject to North Carolina’s combined renewable and energy efficiency portfolio standard. As a result, the standards required for North Carolina will probably have an effect on South Carolina customers.

For more information on energy efficiency as a resource, click here.

Last Updated: July 2016

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

There is currently no EERS in place.  

For more information on Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, click here.

Last Updated: July 2016

Utility Business Model List All

A mechanism allowing for the recovery of lost revenues was first authorized in 2008 for Duke Energy Progress. In 2010, South Carolina Electric & Gas Company proposed a lost revenue recovery mechanism that was approved (Docket No. 2009-261-E and Docket 200-251-E). The Commission has also approved a mechanism allowing Duke Energy Carolinas to adjust rates to recover lost revenue. Mechanisms for both Duke Energy Progress and SCE&G were reauthorized in 2013. Lost revenues are estimated prospectively and are trued-up annually based on actual penetration rates and energy savings data.

Duke Energy Progress and South Carolina Electric & Gas Company have shared savings incentives based on the net present value of each program using the Utility Cost Test (Docket No. 2009-261-E). The PSC approved Duke Energy’s Save-A-Watt program (See Dockets 2007-358-E and 2008-251-E).

Last Updated: July 2016

Evaluation, Measurement, & Verification List All
  • Primary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: utility cost test
  • Secondary cost-effectiveness test(s) used: ratepayer impact measure test, total resource cost test

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in South Carolina relies on legislative mandates (SC Code Ann. Section 58-37-30), as well as regulatory orders.. Evaluations are mainly administered by the South Carolina Public Service Commission and assisted by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS). Statewide evaluations are conducted. There are no specific legal requirements for these evaluations in South Carolina. EM&V is completed by independent 3rd parties for all the investor-owned utilities for their suite of programs annually. According to the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), South Carolina specifies the UCT to be its primary test for decision making. Their cost-effectiveness screening does not account for non-energy benefits. ORS also examines the RIM and TRC.

Further information on cost-effectiveness screening practices for South Carolina is available in the Database of State Efficiency Screening Practices (DSESP), a resource of the National Efficiency Screening Project (NESP).

Last Updated: August 2019

Guidelines for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs List All

Requirements for State and Utility Support of Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

The South Carolina Energy Efficiency Act and resultant statute (Section 48-52-210) direct the state agencies to establish comprehensive energy efficiency plans and “… ensure that basic energy needs of all citizens, including low-income citizens, are met.” No minimum requirements for low-income energy efficiency spending or savings are specified.

Cost-Effectiveness Rules for Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs

SCE&G, Duke Energy Carolinas, and Duke Energy Progress all include regulatory cost-recovery mechanisms that would function in the case of future low-income programs that do not pass cost-effectiveness tests.

Coordination of Ratepayer-Funded Low-Income Programs with WAP Services

In South Carolina, SCE&G, Duke, Duke Progress Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas all provide assistance with paying light bills for eligible individuals and families through a program called Project SHARE. Utility companies partner with the state and local Community Action Agencies to provide funding for projects and structural improvements. SCE&G and Duke Power have recently worked with local Community Action Agencies to provide 200 Community Solar opportunities, free of charge, to clients
eligible for Weatherization services. (Source)

Last updated: July 2019

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs List All

Industrial, manufacturing or retail commercial customers with 1,000,000 kWh annual usage or greater are eligible to opt-out. Self-certification only is required. Roughly 50% of eligible load is opted-out.

Last Updated: July 2016

Data AccessList All

South Carolina has no policy in place that requires utilities to release energy use data to customers or third parties. 

Last Updated: July 2016 

Score: 2.5 out of 12
Transportation Summary List All

The state has a state freight plan in addition to complete streets legislation and incentives for high-efficiency vehicles.

Tailpipe Emission Standards List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transportation System Efficiency List All

Transportation and Land Use Integration: No policy in place or proposed.

VMT Targets: No policy in place or proposed.

Complete Streets: In 2003, South Carolina adopted complete streets legislation to accommodate bicycling and walking facilities DOT planning activities. 

FAST Freight Plans and Goals: South Carolina has a state freight plan that identifies a multimodal freight network, but it does not include freight energy or greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Transit Funding List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Incentives for High-Efficiency Vehicles List All

No policy in place or proposed.

Last Reviewed: July 2019

Equitable Access to TransportationList All
South Carolina does not have any state programs in place to incentivize the creation of low-income housing near transit facilities, nor does it consider the proximity of transit facilities when distributing federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to qualifying property owners. Last Reviewed: July 2019
Appliance Standards
Score: 0 out of 3
Appliance Standards Summary List All

South Carolina has not set appliance standards beyond those required by the federal government.

Last Reviewed: June 2019