South Carolina

SOUTH CAROLINA

South Carolina is home to just over 5 million people. 40th in size among the states, it covers just over 30 thousand square miles of land and boasts a 187-mile ocean shoreline consisting of the Grand Strand, an unbroken beach stretching from the North Carolina border southward for more than 100 miles before giving way to the tidal and freshwater marshes of the Sea Islands, which extend into Georgia. Before colonization, South Carolina was home to Native American tribes such as the Catawba, Chicora, PeeDee, Creek and Cusobo. English colonizers established a large settlement that would become North and South Carolina in 1670, and began bringing captured peoples from Africa to labor on plantations. Boone Hall, the oldest plantation in the country, can be found in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Sea level rise, fueled by warming waters, poses an urgent threat to South Carolina’s coastal ecosystems, economy (which is primarily agricultural and tourism), as well as the lives of almost 230 thousand people who live in risk of coastal flooding — a number expected to increase by over 50 thousand within thirty years. Cities like Charleston are already seeing frequent floods during high tide. As severe storms and hurricanes grow more frequent and more intense, with 29 federally declared disasters between 1954-2020 for water related incidents alone, the general sea level rise compounds the threat of a storm surge. By 2050, a 100-year flood will become nine times more likely, or an approximately 1-in-11-year event. A changing climate is also likely to change the composition of South Carolina’s forests, which cover two-thirds of the state.

Nuclear energy is the leading source of electricity generation in South Carolina. By 2018, the state ranked third in the nation for both generating capacity and annual generation. South Carolina has, however, no petroleum, coal or gas reserves or production. All their fossil fuels come from outside the state, primarily by rail or by pipeline. Coal still accounts for about one-fifth of the state’s electricity generation – down by half from a decade ago; natural gas slightly exceeds one-fifth surpassing coal for the first time in 2018. South Carolina’s primary renewables supply the rest (about 6%), including hydropower facilities, biomass-fueled power plants that use wood waste or landfill gas, and solar energy.The state’s even has an anaerobic digester, which came online in 2011, generating power from methane gas captured at a hog farm and from another that uses poultry waste in 2013. Generating more electricity than it consumes South Carolina pumps its surplus across the regional grid to other states.

While South Carolina does not have a statewide climate adaptation plan, the state has passed legislation aimed at adaptation efforts. For example, the 2018 update to the South Carolina Hazard Mitigation Plan, without once mentioning climate change, analyzes risks affecting the state and identifies actions to mitigate their impact. Earlier, in 2014, South Carolina passed a Voluntary Renewables Portfolio Standard bill for the state to reach 2% renewable energy by 2021. The state has not updated that standard to reflect either the urgency of the climate crisis or the growth of renewables’ role in its energy mix.

CURRENT NEWS

‘A Beautiful Place That Has a Dragon’: Where Hurricane Risk Meets Booming Growth

By Aatish Bhatia 11/19/23
The hurricanes keep coming, and the people, too: The fastest-growing places along the Atlantic coast this century are also among the most hurricane-prone. Between 2016 and 2022, the five hurricanes that hit the Carolinas cost…
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How a South Carolina faith leader and a California congressman are fighting for environmental justice

By Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rev. Leo Woodberry 08/31/23
From California to South Carolina, and across the globe, we are all bearing witness to the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Unprecedented fires, devastating hurricanes, polluted air, debilitating droughts, and rising sea levels paint…
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Hurricane Idalia Storm Gaining Strength as It Advances on Florida Coast

By Abigail Geiger and Others 08/29/23
Hurricane Idalia continued to power toward Florida on Wednesday morning with wind speeds of about 120 miles per hour, as its rain bands lashed Florida’s west coast. The storm, expected to intensify further and become…
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Lowcountry is the last ‘wild west’ for blue crabs. Crabbers call for change.

By Clare Fieseler 05/16/23
In February, David Richardson drove to Columbia from his home in Charleston to speak to a room of state senators about his life as a South Carolina crabber, which, at the moment, “is kind of…
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‘The dirty hidden little secret of the coast’

By John Ramsey 05/08/23
From her dock overlooking James Island Creek, Mary Edna Fraser has painted this stretch of water at sunrise and sunset and every hour in between, capturing the subtle changes in lighting and ripples on the…
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South Carolina green lights grant, job credits for solar project

By T.A. Defeo 05/01/23
The South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development also awarded Sumter County a $1.5 million Rural Infrastructure Fund grant to help defray the costs of water, wastewater and building improvements.
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SPI Energy brings solar wafer, module production to South Carolina

By Chris Crowell 04/28/23
Global renewable energy company SPI Energy Co. leased a facility in South Carolina this week to expand the solar wafer and solar module manufacturing capacities for its wholly owned SEM Wafertech Inc. and Solar4Amercica Technology…
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South Carolina could receive $15.5M in funding to help communities combat climate change

By Tim Renaud 04/21/23
South Carolina could receive $15.5 million to make its communities and economy more resilient to climate change.
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The Unequal Racial Burdens of Rising Seas

By Emily Raboteau 04/10/23
In “Charleston,” a case study of climate change and government negligence in the South Carolina city, Susan Crawford makes clear the disproportionate costs borne by communities of color in the coastal United States....
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The perfect storm: the US city where rising sea levels and racism collide

By Susan Crawford 04/04/23
Cross-currents of denialism, boosterism, broken governance systems and deep-seated racism will meet with rapidly accelerating sea level risePredictions about how much water is coming vary greatly. Some scientists say we should be planning on three…
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Rising seas could cause septic system failures in Beaufort County, South Carolina

By YCC Team 03/14/23
Some residents in low-lying Beaufort County, South Carolina, are already facing the disgusting consequences. During heavy rain, some septic systems fail, so people are unable to flush their toilets. And contaminated floodwater pools in yards…
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Rotted floors and mold: Coastal climate change hurts affordable housing residents the most

By Sarah Haselhorst and Mary Dimitrov 03/09/23
There’s no longer a trace that Audrey Hamilton’s great-granddaughter fell through the kitchen floor of her great-grandmother’s mobile home.
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PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Charleston Green Plan

04/28/20
A roadmap to sustainability.

South Carolina Action State Energy Plan

04/28/20
The South Carolina State Energy Plan (State Energy Plan) is a comprehensive blueprint for a reliable, resilient, clean, and affordable energy system for South Carolina residents and businesses. Specifically, the State Energy Plan is designed…

KEY RESOURCES

South Carolina State Profile and Energy Estimates

10/26/21
South Carolina is located on the U.S. East Coast halfway between New York City and Miami. Although the state does not have any economically recoverable fossil fuel reserves, it does have renewable resources. South Carolina's…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

The First National Flood Risk Assessment

10/06/20
The First Street Foundation Flood Model represents the culmination of decades of research and development made possible by building upon existing knowledge and frameworks regularly referenced in the identification of flood risk.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in South Carolina

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, South Carolina experienced four tropical cyclones, five severe storms, one winter storm, and one freeze. The damages of each event led to losses of at least $1 billion.

State-by-State: Climate Change in South Carolina

08/06/20
South Carolina is vulnerable to sea level rise, flooding, coastal storms and increasing temperatures – all which threaten the state’s agriculture and energy industries as well as human health

Solar Soars In South Carolina With Energy Freedom Act

04/28/20
South Carolina’s new “Energy Freedom Act” is aptly titled. Signed into law in May following unanimous votes in the South Carolina House and Senate, the mandate commands the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to give…

Discussion of South Carolina Act 236: Version 2.0

04/28/20
Act 236 (Distributed Energy Resources Program Act): legislation passed in 2014, meant to address renewable energy development in South Carolina. The legislation’s three sections address third- party leasing, net energy metering, and utility cost recovery…

Public Energy Enemy No. 1

04/28/20
Why Duke, America’s Biggest Electric Utility, Is Also the Worst for the Environment.

Southern Environmental Law Center’s Statement in Response to South Carolina Unanimously Passing Solar Legislation

04/28/20
The South Carolina State Senate and House have unanimously passed the Energy Freedom Act, opening the door for more free-market competition in the energy sector and expanded access to solar across the state. The bill…

Final Report of the South Carolina Clean Energy Industry Manufacturing Market Development Advisory Commission

04/28/20
With rapid advancements in clean energy technology, falling prices for most renewable energy sources, and an evolving global landscape for the production of clean energy products, the current market for clean energy manufacturing is in…

South Carolina’s leaders are honing in on a plan to fight climate change

04/28/20
The 658-page report was published by the South Carolina Floodwater Commission, tasked with finding a solution to the state's flooding problems after Hurricane Florence.

MORE NEWS

Electric Vehicles are Gaining Ground in the Southeast as Billions of Investment Dollars Flow

By Stan Cross   03/08/23  
The Southeast electric vehicle market continues growing even as supportive public policies are lagging. But the policy landscape may change as over 40% of the nation's EV and supply chain investment has poured into the…
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Sol Systems and Google Announce Partnership to Invest in Solar Energy Projects and Community Organizations

03/07/23  
Today, Sol Systems, a national solar energy company focused on developing and operating renewable energy projects with community impact, announced a unique renewable energy procurement and investment strategy with Google that enables the development of…
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Analysis finds Renewables cheaper than all Southeast coal plants

By Maggie Shober   03/02/23  
Energy Innovation has released updated analysis comparing the cost of continuing to operate coal plants to replacing them with solar, wind, or batteries. The results are clear: continued reliance on coal is expensive, and each…
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Building Communities Resilient to Climate Change – the Story of Bucksport

By Heather Clarkson   02/28/23  
The South Carolina Lowcountry is a region full of marvels - both of the historical and ecological variety. There's no shortage of wondrous sights from the sandy beaches to the sea islands, to Francis Beidler…
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South Carolina watershed in multi million climate change project

By Nevin Smith   02/21/23  
A nearly $50 million investment to combat climate change is targeting a South Carolina watershed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday the $48.6 million investment through the Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership. The projects…
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What sick sea turtles tell us about our environment and climate change

By Victoria Hansen   02/14/23  
The South Carolina Aquarium offers more than a window to life under the sea, it also serves as a triage for injured and endangered sea turtles. Beneath the exhibits lies a protected world of whirling…
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Warmer waters, more salt, fewer blue crabs — a grim report urges SC lawmakers to act

By Clare Fieseler cfieseler   02/08/23  
In 2021, blue crab landings in South Carolina reached a 50-year low. This was no surprise. Commercial and recreational crabbers have long complained about dwindling catches. For two decades, finger-pointing has largely been directed at…
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100,000 Green Jobs Announced Since US Adopted Climate Law, Study Finds

By Carly Wanna   02/06/23  
Between last August, when President Joe Biden’s landmark climate bill became law, and the end of January, companies have announced more than 100,000 clean energy jobs in the US, according to an analysis released Monday…
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‘It’s like a death:’ What it’s like to leave one flood-prone community

By Brady Dennis   10/25/22  
On the day she would finally move to higher ground, Terri Straka awoke in the neighborhood where she had lived for three decades, but a place steadily becoming less recognizable. “No Trespassing” signs adorned the…
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Ian Latest: Weaker Storm Brings Rain, Flash Floods to Carolinas

By Brian K . Sullivan and Others   10/01/22  
Ian lost its hurricane status after pummeling South Carolina with violent winds and a deadly storm surge, knocking out power to tens of thousands in the US Southeast. The storm came ashore as a Category…
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Ian Latest: Carolinas-Bound Storm Regains Hurricane Strength

09/30/22  
Ian, now a hurricane again, is threatening to carve a new path of destruction through South Carolina Friday when it roars ashore north of Charleston. The storm will drive a surge of water into the…
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‘Historic’ flooding slams Florida as Ian turns toward the Carolinas

By multiple authors   09/29/22  
Early assessments offered a grim look at widespread damage as rescuers struggled to reach stranded Floridians. The storm is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane and make landfall again in South Carolina. Our reporters…
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South Carolina companies team up for renewable energy project at McCall Farms

By Jack Bilyeu   05/01/22  
A new facility at the McCall Farms plant in Effingham is turning waste into usable natural gas. It filters natural gas gathered from nearby wastewater lagoons, which hold the parts of fruits and vegetables that…
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Suing over climate change: Taking fossil fuel companies to court

04/17/22  
If climate change were a disaster film, it would likely be accused of being too over-the-top: wildfires reducing entire towns to ashes, hurricanes swamping cities, droughts draining lakes and withering fields, and raging oceans redrawing…
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SolarGen of South Carolina establishing operations in Clarendon County

04/06/22  
SolarGen of South Carolina, a wholly owned subsidiary of CMDAJ Holdings, LLC, today announced plans to establish operations in Clarendon County. The company is investing $150 million into the solar energy operation. SolarGen of South…
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U.S. set to auction wind energy rights off Carolinas coast

By Associated Press   03/25/22  
The federal government plans to auction off the rights to produce power from wind energy in two areas offshore of North Carolina and South Carolina. The leases are part of President Joe Biden's goal of…
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UN report underlines a climate change reality: SC has ‘a lot to do’ to adapt

By Chloe Johnson   03/05/22  
A sprawling new report from an international consortium of scientists says the globe is not reacting quickly enough to climate change, and adaptation must speed up to meet the challenge of higher seas, increased wildfires,…
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Icymi: Secretary Granholm Traveled To South Carolina To Highlight Efforts To Strengthen University Pipeline To Clean Energy Jobs

02/22/22  
On Thursday, February 17th, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm traveled to North Charleston and Orangeburg, South Carolina to highlight how the Department and the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are supporting advancements in clean…
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Duke Energy plans to exit all coal, double renewables

By Kristi E. Swartz   02/11/22  
Duke Energy Corp. intends to close the rest of its coal plants by 2035 and more than double its renewable capacity by 2030 as part of a massive — and expensive — clean energy push.…
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USDA to award grants for rural renewable energy projects

By Cory Smith   01/26/22  
Renewable energy has been on the rise here in South Carolina, now accounting for 8% of the state’s power. Solar more specifically, has tripled since 2018 and while infrastructure has been built for larger cities…
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Rising sea levels threaten the lives and livelihood of those on a fragile U.S. coast

By Barry Gordemer   11/07/21  
This is a story about a tree, a fisherman and a queen. Each is profoundly connected to a South Carolina coastal community threatened by rising sea levels caused by climate change. And each uniquely represents…
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Santee Cooper celebrates 20 years of generating ‘Green Power’

By Diante Gibbs   09/13/21  
One of South Carolina’s largest power providers, Santee Cooper, recognizes generating 1.2 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of Green Power in the past 20 years, increasing the company’s Green Power portfolio.
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Construction starts on renewable natural gas project at South Carolina landfill

By Plamena Tisheva   09/13/21  
Construction has started on a renewable natural gas (RNG) project at the Twin Chimneys landfill in Honea Path, South Carolina, energy infrastructure investor LS Power said last week.
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Dantzler Farms to get renewable energy grant

09/12/21  
 U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the department is investing $464 million to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure and to help rural communities, agricultural producers and businesses lower energy costs…
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SJCH first hospital in SC to be awarded LEED certification

By Leslie Cantou   09/03/21  
The recently bestowed designation makes SJCH&PTWP the first comprehensive, built-from-scratch hospital in South Carolina to achieve LEED certification, a status that indicates the building meets specific environmental and sustainability goals. LEED stands for “leadership in…
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Duke explores shutting coal-fired plants by 2030 in South Carolina plans

By Scott Van Voorhis   09/01/21  
Duke Energy is eyeing an early retirement of its coal-fired plants by the end of the decade, according to the revised integrated resource plans (IRP) filed with South Carolina regulators Friday for its subsidiaries, Duke Energy…
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Electric Vehicles Could Add $47 Billion Annually to Southeast Economy

By Stan Cross and Heather Pohnan   08/26/21  
Because most electricity is generated locally, shifting to electric transportation will save consumers money at the plug and keep more of their transportation fuel dollars recirculating through local economies.
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Cypress Creek Renewables Plans Anderson County, South Carolina, Solar Project

By Area Developement Desk   08/23/21  
Cypress Creek Renewables, a leading solar and storage energy company, plans to grow operations with a new solar project in Anderson County, South Carolina.
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As climate change intensifies, how might Laudato Si’ guide community responses?

By Brian Rowe   08/20/21  
In 2019, the Atlantic coastal city experienced 89 days of flooding, or nearly one of every five days that year. That blew past the previous record of 58 times, set in 2015, and represented a dramatic…
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Climate change will cut into outdoor work, endanger workers, new study says

By Chloe Johnson   08/19/21  
, used different climate change scenarios to project the amount of warming across the United States, and then coupled that with census data on where people who work outside are clustered. Latino and Black individuals…
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On South Carolina’s shore, some condo owners worry: Are their buildings safe?

By Tim Craig   08/11/21  
When Mark and Judy Rondeau moved to a condominium five years ago, they did everything they could to protect their investment in this damp, flood-prone state.
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Study: Climate change added $8 billion to Sandy’s damages

By Associated Press   05/19/21  
Climate change-triggered sea level rise added $8 billion in damage during 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, one of the nation’s costliest weather disasters, a new study said.
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SC and NC were in the path of the pipeline hack

By Chase Karacostas   05/19/21  
The hack that shuttered a sprawling oil and gas pipeline system from Texas to New Jersey exposed major flaws in North and South Carolina’s energy infrastructure and regulation, experts say. Colonial Pipeline shut down May…
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SC lawmakers may extend building permits for years despite rapidly changing coast

By Chloe Johnson   04/29/21  
South Carolina lawmakers may move to extend a slew of development permits around the state, adding years to state permissions for land disturbance, water pollution, sensitive coastal work and even the right to install a…
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Duke Energy plans to triple its output of renewable energy by 2030

By Dave Kovaleski   04/29/21  
Duke Energy expects to triple the amount of renewable energy it produces by the end of this decade, according to its annual Sustainability Report, which reports on environment, social and governance (ESG) issues. Currently, about…
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South Carolina regulators save net metering, reject Dominion’s proposal

By Tim Sylvia   04/29/21  
South Carolina regulators unanimously approved a bid to keep net metering in place while gradually transitioning to Dominion Energy’s existing time-of-use rate schedule for customers. The recommended action was petitioned for by both local solar…
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Clean generation remains Duke Energy’s focus as it plans to triple renewable energy this decade

04/28/21  
By the end of this decade, renewables will make up a large portion of the company’s generation mix as Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) looks to triple the amount of renewable energy it produces from company…
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So, how hot is Charleston really?

By Caitlin Byrd   04/15/21  
Years ago, on the question-and-answer website Quora, someone asked, “How hot does it get in Charleston?” “Go into your bathroom and turn on the shower as hot as it can go. Then close the bathroom…
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Offshore Drilling Ban Could Prevent Over 19 Billion Tons of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

By Oceana   01/26/21  
An Oceana analysis released today finds permanent offshore drilling protections for unleased federal waters could prevent over 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions as well as more than $720 billion in damages to people
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Lowcountry environmentalists say renewed Paris Climate Agreement creates change at home

By Rachel Ellis   01/23/21  
The Lowcountry is no stranger to issues like rising seas levels, hurricanes and flooding. Environmental activists are hopeful help could be on the way under a new presidential administration. Some groups believe the renewed Paris…
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Dominion energy acquires solar energy project in hardin county from invenergy

01/22/21  
Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) announced this week that one of its subsidiaries has acquired the 150-megawatt (AC) Hardin solar generating facility, which recently entered service in Hardin County, Ohio, from Chicago-based Invenergy.
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South Carolina directs Dominion to model early coal fleet retirement

By Lulia Gheorghiu   01/05/21  
South Carolina regulators published a final order on Dec. 23 rejecting Dominion Energy South Carolina's proposed 2020 Integrated Resource Plan, directing the utility to remodel its analysis and include more short-term projections.
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As mold grows in the aftermath of hurricanes, more North Carolina asthma patients suffer

By Lynn Bonner   10/23/20  
Pamlico County, wedged between its namesake sound and the mouth of the Neuse River, is surrounded by water on three sides and is a target for hurricanes that sweep up the North Carolina coast. In…
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EcoRight: Conservative lawmakers see climate impacts at Upstate S.C. “field trip”

By Price Atkinson   10/22/20  
A beautiful fall morning greeted us upon arrival at the South Carolina Botanical Garden on the campus of Clemson University last Friday. I pulled into the back parking lot around 10:15 am, excited to finally meet of our good…
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A flesh-eating bacteria lurking in waterways is killing people in the Carolinas

By Sammy Fretwell, Ali Raj, Sofia Moutinho   10/22/20  
As Billy Bailey picked through the crabs he caught on Big Bay Creek, trying to determine which to keep and which to throw back, one of them clamped down on his hand, causing him to…
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What’s Vibrio? Cases of deadly, flesh-eating bacteria up significantly in the US due to climate change: Study

By Mihika Basu   10/22/20  
The cases of deadly, flesh-eating bacteria called Vibrio have increased significantly in some parts of the US and, according to scientists, climate change is the culprit. In particular, rising temperatures and sea levels have led…
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To Tell the Story of Climate Change, We Went Beyond the Beach. Here’s How We Did It

By Dan Barkin   10/20/20  
Much of the national reporting on climate change has focused on warming oceans, rising sea levels and the impact on the coast and beaches. But the effects of climate change go beyond the beach, and…
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Hurricanes repeatedly devastate this SC town, leaving a stinking threat behind: Mold

By Sammy Fretwell   10/20/20  
Almost every time Gwen Felton opened the door to her father’s mobile home, a blast of stinking, moldy air smacked her in the face. Mold had spread across the floors, crept up the walls and…
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Coastal flooding continues to increase in South Carolina

By Danielle Miller   10/19/20  
King tide floods affected many locations along the East Coast this weekend, including Charleston. This type of flooding, often called sunny day flooding, occurs during the highest astronomical tides of the year. Dr. Kirstin Dow,…
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Climate change is contributing to health problems in Sellers, South Carolina

By Joshua Boucher   10/18/20  
After floods and multiple hurricanes, homes in Sellers, South Carolina are plagued with mold. This mold is causing health problems for Sellers residents.
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