South Carolina renewable energy and energy efficiency

South Carolina offers incentive programs, including low interest loans, tax incentives and utility incentives, to encourage the adoption of renewable energy and the improvement of energy efficiency, which are available for residential customers, private businesses, and public entities, as well as non-profit organizations.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in South Carolina

In 2007, South Carolina enacted legislation to promote effective energy standards for public buildings. In 2008, the state enacted additional legislation that requires the development of energy conservation plans. The ultimate conservation goal is a 20% reduction in energy use in public buildings by 2020 compared to 2000 levels1.

South Carolina has a net metering policy that requires utilities to provide net metering at the full retail rate to customers with eligible renewable energy systems. Residential net metering customers of investor-owned utilities can install renewable systems of 20 kW or less and nonresidential customers can install systems with a cap of the lesser of 100% of demand or 1 MW2.

South Carolina's primary renewable energy resources come from hydropower and biomass. A small but increasing share of South Carolina's renewable generation comes from solar resources. 830.6 MW of solar capacity had been installed by Q2 2019, compared with 147.2 MW installed in 20183. Currently, South Carolina does not have any installed utility-scale wind generation capacity, but the Energy Office has been instrumental in bringing key stakeholders together to plan for the development of wind power in the state4.

South Carolina's Renewable Portfolio Standard

In 2014, South Carolina's legislature (S.B. 1189) authorized the creation of a voluntary Distributed Energy Resource Program for investor-owned utilities and required the Public Service Commission to develop net metering rules. The legislation allows participating utilities to recover costs connected to the renewable generation target, which is 2% of aggregate generation capacity from renewable energy sources by 2021. In addition, 1% of aggregate generation capacity must come from large-scale facilities sized between 1 MW and 10 MW. The other half (1% of aggregate generation capacity) must come from small-scale facilities sized under 1MW, and 25% of the small-scale generation target must come from systems less than 20 kW5.

Important renewable energy organizations in South Carolina

The Public Service Commission of South Carolina is charged with the regulation of rates and services of the state's public utilities through consistent administration of the law and regulatory process6. The earliest form of the Public Service Commission was created with the passage of Act No. 662 of the General Assembly Regular Session of 18787.

The South Carolina State Energy Office is charged with serving as the principal energy planning entity for the state, providing a broad range of resources designed to help South Carolina save energy through greater efficiency, better information, and enhanced environmental quality. The State Energy Office was created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1992 through the passage of the South Carolina Energy Efficiency Act, which also called for the creation of a comprehensive state energy plan8. Development of the State Energy Plan began in 2016, which includes three phases, baseline developments, policy recommendations and implementation. After receiving the endorsement from the Public Utility Review Committee, the Energy Office has now begun the implementation, “Energy in Action”, to ensure a stable and equitable energy future.

Utilities in South Carolina also play a significant role in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency. There are three predominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the state, namely Dominion Energy South Carolina, Duke Energy Carolina and Duke Energy Progress. In addition to the IOUs, there are another two different kinds of self-governing electric utilities in the state, which are the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and the Municipal Utilities. Also, South Carolina has a state-owned public power utility, Santee Cooper. As one of the largest power providers in the state, it provides power for 46 counties directly and through the state's electric cooperatives and other wholesale customers.

How to go solar in South Carolina

You can install solar panels on your property and benefit directly from solar energy in South Carolina. The best way to go solar is to compare multiple quotes - you can join the EnergySage Marketplace for free to begin comparing your options from installation companies near you. Want to start with a little more research? Check out average prices for solar in South Carolina, or read through reviews of the best local solar installers in South Carolina.


  1. DSIRE. “State Building Energy Standards”. Accessed October 5, 2019
  2. DSIRE. “Net Metering”. Accessed October 5, 2019
  3. Solar Energy Industries Association. “U.S. Solar Market Insight”. Accessed October 5, 2019
  4. U.S. Energy Information Administration. “South Carolina Profile Analysis”. Accessed October 5, 2019
  5. DSIRE. “Distributed Energy Resource Program”. Accessed October 5, 2019
  6. Public Service Commission of South Carolina. “Mission Statement”. Accessed October 8, 2019
  7. Public Service Commission of South Carolina. “History of the Public Service Commission of South Carolina”. Accessed October 8, 2019
  8. South Carolina State Energy Office. “State Energy Plan”. Accessed October 8, 2019

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