Energy Efficiency: An Economic Development Strategy for South Carolina

November 11, 2009

Media Contact(s):

Max Neubauer, 202-507-4005, Senior Policy Analyst
Suzanne Watson, 202-507-4006, Ally Program Lead

Charleston, S.C. —  A new study released today shows that a combination of energy and water efficiency policies could cut electricity and water bills for South Carolinians by $5.1 billion and could create almost 22,000 new “green” jobs by 2025.

The study, South Carolina’s Energy Future: Minding Its Efficiency Resources, was conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) based in Washington, D.C. with input from many South Carolina citizens. The report examines the potential electricity and water efficiency savings that could be realized in South Carolina through the implementation of a suite of eleven electric and five water efficiency policies, and quantifies the growth in gross state product and employment that would result from these investments.

“The efficiency savings realized are a result of two effects," said Max Neubauer, the study's lead author and ACEEE research associate. "First, installation of more efficient appliances or heating equipment will lower water and electric consumption, thereby lowering bills. Second, because of current volatility in energy prices, efficiency strategies have the added benefit of improving the balance of demand and supply in energy markets, thus stabilizing regional energy prices in the future.”

For the first time in any of its state-based, efficiency reports, ACEEE did an analysis of the potential for water efficiency as well as added three new energy efficiency measures of interest to the state: improved efficiency in manufactured housing, implementation of a behavioral awareness program, and a rural/agricultural initiative. This last initiative is of particular importance to a state such as South Carolina with a large rural population.

Senator Thomas C. Alexander (R. – Oconee), chairman of the State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee, said, “This report gives our state a starting point for a more energy-efficient future. We cannot continue with business as usual when it comes to energy consumption. We must make changes if we want to avoid a crisis in the near future.”

Senator Glenn McConnell (R. – Charleston), added, “South Carolina must act now before we face an energy crisis. We need to move toward more balanced energy solutions. Energy efficiency is the best first step toward meeting our needs while guarding our resources, our security, and our environment.”

ACEEE developed a suite of eleven electric and five water efficiency policy suggestions based on successful models implemented in other states and in-depth consultation with stakeholders in South Carolina. Of the eleven electricity policies recommended, the report suggests that eight be eligible to contribute towards a utility savings target that would be required by an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) which would be set at 18% of projected sales in 2025.The EERS represents the core of these policies, providing a foundation to which the other policies contribute to achieve the greatest savings. The 11 electric efficiency recommendations are:

Contributing to the EERS

  1. Advanced Building Initiative
  2. Behavioral Initiative
  3. Combined Heat and Power
  4. Lead by Example
  5. Low-Income Weatherization
  6. Manufactured Homes Initiative
  7. Manufacturer Initiative
  8. Rural and Agricultural Initiative

Enabling Policies

  1. Building Energy Codes
  2. Workforce Development Initiative
  3. Expanded Demand Response Programs

To assist South Carolina’s public water supply and wastewater treatment systems to meet the growing demand for water and wastewater service cost-effectively, the report suggests five water efficiency policies as follows:

  1. Plumbing Efficiency Standards
  2. Replacement of Inefficient Plumbing in Pre-1995 Homes
  3. Utility System Water Loss (Leakage) Reduction
  4. Water Efficient Landscape Irrigation
  5. Conservation Pricing of Water and Sewer Service

“There’s also the added benefit of creating new, high-quality 'green-collar' jobs designing, installing, and operating energy efficiency measures, resulting in increasing wages and gross state product,” remarked Suzanne Watson, ACEEE’s Policy Director.

“The information in the ACEEE study will help the Palmetto State shape our energy policy to achieve the maximum benefit for South Carolinians now and in the future,” said Ashlie Lancaster, Deputy Director with the South Carolina Energy Office.

The full report, South Carolina’s Energy Future: Minding Its Efficiency Resources, is available for free download here or a hard copy can be purchased for $60 plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 529 14th Street N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone 202-507-4000, fax 202-429-2248

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit