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

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.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

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

SJCH first hospital in SC to be awarded LEED certification

By Leslie Cantou  Photo: Brennan Wesley   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…

Duke explores shutting coal-fired plants by 2030 in South Carolina plans

By Scott Van Voorhis  Photo: Davis Turner , Getty Images   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…

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.

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.

As climate change intensifies, how might Laudato Si’ guide community responses?

By Brian Rowe  Photo: Randall Hill , Reuters   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…

Climate change will cut into outdoor work, endanger workers, new study says

By Chloe Johnson  Photo: Grace Beahm Alford   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…

On South Carolina’s shore, some condo owners worry: Are their buildings safe?

By Tim Craig  Photo: Logan Cyrus , Getty Images   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.

Study: Climate change added $8 billion to Sandy’s damages

By Associated Press  Photo: AP   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.

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…

SC lawmakers may extend building permits for years despite rapidly changing coast

By Chloe Johnson  Photo: File/Richard Beck/Provided   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…

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…

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…

So, how hot is Charleston really?

By Caitlin Byrd  Photo: Gerry Melendez   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…

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

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…

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.

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.

As mold grows in the aftermath of hurricanes, more North Carolina asthma patients suffer

By Lynn Bonner  Photo by Travis Long   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…

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…

A flesh-eating bacteria lurking in waterways is killing people in the Carolinas

By Sammy Fretwell, Ali Raj, Sofia Moutinho  Photo by Travis Long   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…

What’s Vibrio? Cases of deadly, flesh-eating bacteria up significantly in the US due to climate change: Study

By Mihika Basu  Photo by Getty Images   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…

To Tell the Story of Climate Change, We Went Beyond the Beach. Here’s How We Did It

By Dan Barkin  Photo by Joshua Boucher   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…

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…

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,…

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.

Deadly bacteria is growing around South Carolina with climate change’s help

By Joshua Boucher   10/18/20  
Scientists at the University of South Carolina explain how climate change is helping vibrio bacteria spread and become more deadly in South Carolina.

“Nancy Mace denies climate change.”

By Tom Kertscher   10/16/20  
The re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., created a website for attacking his opponent, Republican state Rep. Nancy Mace."Nancy Mace denies climate change" is one of Cunningham’s claims on MaceFacts.com.

New South Carolina Law Creates Resilience Office to Address Flooding

By Michelle Liu   10/15/20  
After five years filled with unprecedented flooding, South Carolina has now established an office to marshal the state’s efforts in stemming floodwaters and coordinating recovery and relief efforts. Governor Henry McMaster held a ceremonial signing…

Study links fracking to airborne radioactive particles

By Dan Haugen   10/14/20  
A new study by Harvard scientists finds a significant increase in airborne radioactive particles downwind of fracking sites, with some of the biggest increases found in West Virginia.

Growing citrus in the Midlands with Climate Change

By Alex Calamia   10/13/20  
Citrus were once a fruit that didn't have a chance in the Midlands of South Carolina, but many gardeners are having luck in recent years. Temperatures are trending warmer across the Midlands, and across the…

Duke Energy to Expand Electric Vehicle Charging in South Carolina

10/09/20  
As new electric vehicles enter the market and strong sales growth continues nationwide, the Public Service Commission of South Carolina ) has approved two Duke Energy electric transportation pilot programs that will allow South Carolina…

First-of-a-kind utility plan could transform Southeast grid

By Kristi E. Swartz   10/07/20  
A group of major electricity providers is forging ahead with plans for a Southeast Energy Exchange Market that could clear the way for more renewable resources to enter the region's power grid. ulleo/Pixabay (Nuclear); Chauncey…

Piedmont Natural Gas to offer renewable natural gas through Nashville fueling station

By Jason wheatley   09/29/20  
Piedmont Natural Gas today announced that renewable natural gas (RNG) is now available at its compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station in Nashville, Tenn. Renewable natural gas is pipeline-quality biomethane produced from biomass that is…
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Trump’s offshore energy ban includes east coast wind farms

By Jennifer A. Dluohy   09/29/20  
President Donald Trump’s decision to rule out energy development along the coasts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas will bar not just offshore oil and gas drilling -- but coastal wind farms too. The broad…

Lawmakers to study changes to SC’s power industry

By Andrew Brown  Photo by Grace Beahm Alford   09/28/20  
South Carolina lawmakers have created a committee to research whether to overhaul the state’s electric utility industry.

SC tourism tax dollars can be used to fight climate change flooding after bill passes

By Emily Bohatch and Katherine Kokal   09/27/20  
Coastal South Carolina leaders will likely have a new revenue stream for fighting flooding and sea-level rise caused by climate change thanks to a bill passed by the state legislature this week.

Hurricanes near U.S. coast forecast to worsen and multiply due to global warming

By Tristram Korten  Photo by Gerry Broome   09/27/20  
The 2020 hurricane season may be best remembered as the one that spawned so many storms that forecasters ran out of names and had to resort to Greek letters. But it is notable for another…

Fierce rainstorm strikes Charleston, a reminder of how climate change has amped up weather

By Tony Bartelme  Photo by Grace Beahm Alford   09/25/20  
The storm came from the southwest, loaded with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Gray clouds moved in with little warning, drizzling at first. Then just before noon Friday the skies opened up, unleashing a…

Beaufort Co. ranks No. 1 in US for climate change risks. It’s not just sea level rise

By Katherine Kokal   09/23/20  
Climate change in Beaufort County in the next 40 years won’t just mean hotter summers. It will mean between 5% and 10% of all property will be below water at high tide. We will have…

South Carolina utility commission overhauled three years after nuclear project fiasco

By Sammy Fretwell And Joseph Bustos   09/23/20  
The S.C. Legislature elected four new members for the Public Service Commission on Wednesday in a state where a nuclear construction fiasco, high monthly power bills and water rate increases have left customers frustrated with…

Scientists Working to Understand Sinking Land in Charleston, South Carolina

By Jan Wesner Childs   09/23/20  
Images of water flowing through the streets and rising over sidewalks in Charleston, South Carolina, are becoming increasingly more common.The city is no stranger to what's known as sunny-day flooding, which happens during high tides…

Charleston aims to force fossil fuel companies to pay $2bn to combat climate crisis

By Oliver Milman  Photo: Matthew Fortner/AP   09/20/20  
South Carolina city sues large oil firms, claiming they concealed knowledge that their product would cause damage to coastal cities around the world

Charleston sues 24 fossil fuel companies, seeks money for climate change damages

By Emily Bohatch   09/09/20  
Charleston officials filed a lawsuit Wednesday against 24 fossil fuel companies, claiming that because they contributed to climate change — and misled the public about the danger its products posed to the environment —they should…

Cities With the Highest Flood Risk in Every State

By Andrew Lisa   08/23/20  
Floods accounted for three of the 14 natural disasters that caused at least $1 billion in damage in the United States in 2019. In total, flooding impacted 14 million Americans last year and put another…

Our View: We would be wise to address climate change in pandemic response

Photo by Kelly Sikkema   05/27/20  
South Carolina joined the world in halting much of its economy for the past two months to slow infections from the coronavirus pandemic. The unprecedented shutdowns will likely lead to record declines in air pollution…

RISING WATERS Forget about climate change. The real story is climate speed.

By Tony Bartelme Tbartelme  Photo by Grace Beahm Alford   05/20/20  
Set aside the notion of climate change. The climate has always changed. The real story is about speed. The pace of change. From rain bombs to higher sea levels, the impacts are coming faster. This…

Sea rise, floods to dramatically change SC coast

By Bo Petersen Bopet  Photo By Mac Stone   05/20/20  
The outer barrier islands in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge already are getting overrun by tides. The sand needed to create new islands and beaches has been blocked by lake dams, coastal groins and…

Duke Energy, City of Charlotte team up on solar power project in North Carolina

05/14/20  
The 35-megawatt (MW) solar facility will be constructed in Iredell County. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Duke Energy will secure zero carbon power to partially offset the city of Charlotte’s energy demand.

Fortress Charleston: Will Walling Off the City Hold Back the Waters?

By Gilbert M Gaul  Photo by Alexandria Preston   05/05/20  
The city is limned by its harbor and three rivers. It leaks at every bend and curve, filling streets, pooling on critical evacuation routes, disrupting business, and rushing into homes in storms. Those million-dollar antebellum…