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.



Charleston Green Plan

A roadmap to sustainability.

South Carolina Action State Energy Plan

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…


South Carolina State Profile and Energy Estimates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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…

Charleston County, College of Charleston and South Carolina Aquarium Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Create the Center of Resilience Excellence South Carolina (CORE SC)

“Issues of resilience threaten us all, from people and property to wildlife and wild places,” said Jonathan Zucker, Aquarium Board Chair. “We feel a special obligation to make sure that everyone is informed about what…

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

Photo by Sean Rayford   05/01/20  
Just in the past three years, the Trump administration has attempted to roll back at least 95 environmental rules and regulations to the detriment of the environment and Americans’ public health. Moreover, the administration refuses…

Charleston County, CofC, and SC Aquarium create CORE SC, collaborate with NASA

By Chase Laudenslager   04/29/20  
The organization was developed as a result of “the team’s recent work with NASA” and enables the founding partners to “develop the Center while expanding their relationship with NASA and other organizations.”

Duke Energy Announces Plans for New Renewable Energy Program in South Carolina

Duke Energy has proposed a new program to expand renewable energy options for its commercial and industrial customers in South Carolina.

Editorial: Environmental law must recognize climate change

Photo by Grace Beahm   04/02/20  
What Lowcountry residents should be most concerned about in proposed changes to the National Environmental Protection Act is the effort to undo an Obama-era rule that requires environmental impact reports to look at flood risks.

Opinion: South Carolina conservatives must confront reality of climate change

By Rep. Gary Clary   03/08/20  
I field a lot of questions from voters who call or write with concerns about the effects of climate change. Some of them own property or have other investments along the coast and are dealing…

How Charleston, South Carolina, Is Working To Save itself From Climate Change

By Steve Bailey   02/12/20  
For the last hundred years, the sea level in Charleston Harbor has risen about an inch every decade. Now it's rising about an inch every two years. Charlestonians, no matter their political persuasion, know climate change…

South Carolina favours 3 options for state utility, incl sale to NextEra

By Tsvetomira Tsanova   02/12/20  
February 12 (Renewables Now) - South Carolina lawmakers are reviewing three proposals for the future of debt-laden utility Santee Cooper, including an acquisition proposal by NextEra Energy Inc (NYSE:NEE)

South Carolina Has No Overall Plan to Fight Climate Change

By Sammy Fretwell   02/10/20  
Four Hurricanes And A Major Flood In Five Years Have Swamped South Carolina, Killing More Than 30 People And Causing Billions Of Dollars In Property Damage.

SC’s $157 million ‘action plan’ criticized for failing to acknowledge climate change, sea-level rise

By Kaitlin Stansell   02/06/20  
South Carolina’s Department of Administration has submitted a 123-page proposal to the federal government, which outlines how $157 million will be used to prepare 17 counties for natural disasters. However, some stakeholders have called the…

Caught Off Guard: South struggles with climate change

By James Bruggers   01/28/20  
Like hundreds of other cities, Louisville, Kentucky, is searching for a path to address climate change. Mayor Greg Fischer has declared a climate emergency, proposed a climate action plan and set a goal of reducing…

As heat rises, SC watches quietly. Will state suffer from lack of climate action?

By Sammy Fretwell   01/26/20  
After keeping a climate study secret for nearly two years, South Carolina’s wildlife agency publicly released the report in the spring of 2013 amid criticism that it had bottled up the information for political reasons.

South Carolina raises rates Dominion must pay to solar providers, reversing earlier decision

By Catherene Morehouse   01/07/20  
The vote reverses a 6-1 decision reached in November that would have had Dominion pay solar providers $21.43/MWh over 10-year contracts. Dominion will now pay between $27.51/MWh and $32.52/MWh, depending on the season and peak…

Commentary: With Energy Freedom Act, South Carolina Takes Steps Toward Resilience

By Shelley Robbins  Photo by Jason A G   07/25/19  
Now more than ever, renewable and resilient energy systems are key to ensuring residents have access to reliable energy infrastructure in the event of a power outage. Hurricane season is here, and South Carolina is no…

New South Carolina law keeps solar working for Palmetto State

Today, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a law removing the brakes on South Carolina’s growing solar industry. The Energy Freedom Act, which unanimously passed both the state House and Senate, removes artificial caps on…