South Carolina


Select Economic and Energy Data Value State Rank
Real Gross Domestic Product, per capita $28,364 5th lowest
Unemployment 12.5% 4th highest
Gasoline Price, per gallon $2.63 3rd lowest
Electricity Price, per kWh 8.28¢ 21st lowest

South Carolina has below average electricity prices (16 percent lower) and the third lowest gasoline prices in the United States. More than half of South Carolina’s electricity is generated by nuclear power plants and another 35 percent comes from coal-fired power plants. Natural gas supplies most of the remainder, with gas supplied by pipeline from the Gulf coast.

South Carolina is one of the top nuclear power producers in the United States. The state currently has four nuclear power plants, and plans for two new reactors are underway if licensing is approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As part of a new wave of proposed nuclear projects, these power plants could be among the first nuclear facilities constructed in the United States in more than 30 years. South Carolina has no coal deposits of its own, so its coal is primarily imported from Kentucky, with some coal originating in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Tennessee. Renewable resources, primarily hydroelectric power and wood, supply almost 4 percent of the state’s generation.

Regulatory Impediments to Affordable Energy

Although affordable energy is a vital component of a healthy economy, regulations frequently increase energy costs. Regulations imposed in the name of reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are especially costly. Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the combustion of all carbon-containing fuels, such as natural gas, petroleum, coal, wood, and other organic materials. Today, there is no cost-effective way to capture the carbon dioxide output of the combustion of these fuels, so any regulations that limit carbon dioxide emissions will either limit the use of natural gas, petroleum, and coal, or dramatically increase their prices.

Below are some facts about South Carolina’s regulatory environment that are likely to affect the cost of energy or the cost of using energy. South Carolina has thus far avoided many of the costly energy policies other states are implementing.

  • South Carolina does not cap greenhouse gas emissions.
  • South Carolina is not a member of a regional agreement to cap greenhouse gas emissions.
  • South Carolina does not require utilities to sell a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources.
  • South Carolina does not require gasoline to be mixed with renewable fuels.
  • South Carolina does not impose automobile fuel economy standards similar to California’s, which include attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles.
  • South Carolina requires new residential and commercial buildings to meet energy efficiency standards. House Bill 3550, enacted in 2009, requires new residential and commercial buildings to meet the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).[i] The IECC, developed by the International Code Council, is a model code that mandates certain energy efficiency standards. All major state construction projects must meet the silver LEED standard or an equivalent standard.[ii] The silver LEED standard is one level of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Also, the state has a goal to reduce energy use by 20 percent from 2000 level by July 1, 2020.[iii]
  • South Carolina does not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards.
  • South Carolina does not allow utilities to “decouple” revenue from the sale of electricity and natural gas. Some states decouple revenue from actual sales, allowing utilities to increase their revenue by selling less electricity and natural gas.

Data Sources: Real GDP per capita 2008: Bureau of Economic Analysis, News Release: GDP by State (June 2, 2009), state/gsp_newsrelease.htm; Unemployment: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment–February 2010 (Mar. 10, 2010); Gasoline Prices: American Automobile Association, AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (Mar. 30, 2010); Electricity Prices: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.B., Average Retail Price of Electricity,  (March 15, 2010),; Electricity Generation Data: Energy Information Administration, Electricity Generation 2009,

[i] Building Codes Assistance Project, Code Status: South Carolina,

[ii] Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, South Carolina State Building Energy Standards

[iii] Energy Information Administration, South Carolina, Apr. 8, 2010,

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