Home » Our Work » A Clean and Just Energy System

A Clean and Just Energy System

South Carolinians are already seeing the impacts of our state’s over-reliance on fossil fuels – from some of the highest energy bills in the nation, to sea level rise and chronic flooding, to hurricanes and extreme weather events. To respond, we must act quickly to limit our emissions, but do so in a way that provides affordable and reliable energy for all South Carolinians.

CVSC works across the energy sector – from generation facilities to transmission systems, to the point of use – to reduce emissions and transition to clean and affordable energy. We work with community partners, utilities, lawmakers, clean energy companies, and more as we fight for a just energy future that is powered by renewables.

Learn more in the sections below about our energy focus areas and contact John Brooker or Jalen to learn more.

Ensuring a clean and just energy future for South Carolina requires a continued effort at the legislature to transform our energy system. We are working to build on SC’s progress in the 2019 Energy Freedom Act and pursue new options to create an energy grid that works for ALL South Carolinians. This includes transitioning SC’s energy generation to affordable, clean energy while also increasing market competition to lower rates for SC ratepayers. We must ensure customer affordability, energy efficiency, and demand response are a key part of the clean energy transition and energy policy in our state.

While passing robust and equitable clean energy legislation is important, we also work to make sure these laws are implemented. Currently, we are working to ensure legislative victories like the Energy Freedom Act and the Santee Cooper reform package result in substantial progress for our state towards a clean and just energy future. Read more about our legislative priorities.

Utilities have a big impact on our energy future, so it’s important to hold them accountable. This is especially important in South Carolina, where our utilities hold monopolies over their service territories. At CVSC, our accountability work focuses on the Public Service Commission (PSC), the state agency that regulates utilities.

The PSC reviews major utility plans, such as rate increases, long-term resource planning, rooftop solar policy, and utility-scale solar contract terms. Its powers increased under the 2019 Energy Freedom Act, landmark bipartisan legislation that accelerated the clean energy transition. We are working to increase citizen participation at the PSC.

Our PSC work includes:

  • Ratepayer letters. When the PSC considers an important policy, we draft a letter and collect signatures on behalf of ratepayers to show public support for clean energy.
  • uPowerSC. We developed a website to share information about the PSC, report on the PSC’s clean energy progress, and drive citizen engagement. You can visit it at www.upowersc.com.
  • Public participation. PSC processes can be complicated, so we share information on clean energy decisions and enable citizen participation through public comment and testimony.
  • Election education. The PSC is elected by the South Carolina General Assembly. With the help of our members, we push legislators to take the decision seriously and choose qualified, well-educated candidates for office.

Note: We do not endorse Public Service Commissioner candidates.

We want clean energy that works for ALL South Carolinians. We must make sure that rural, low-wealth communities, and communities of colors aren’t paying a disproportionate amount of their income towards their energy bill.

For South Carolina, this means ensuring that energy is affordable for all. Many South Carolinians experience very high energy bills. When compared to household income, this is expressed as a percentage of household income known as a household’s ‘energy burden’. Many households in our state have energy burdens well above 6% (generally recognized as the limit for affordability) with some households experiencing energy burdens exceeding 50%. To address this, CVSC and partners have created the Energy Justice Coalition which is a diverse group of over 30 organizations that share the common goal of reducing high energy burdens for families in South Carolina. 

A Just Transition to clean energy also requires supporting communities at the frontline of the energy transition. As legacy coal plants are closed we must seek a Just Transition for these communities and ensure they aren’t left behind in the transition to clean energy. We are currently working with the Georgetown, SC Community and Santee Cooper to help facilitate the development of an economic transition plan for workers and communities ahead of the Winyah Coal Plant Closure. 

In the transportation sector, we are working to increase Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption and charging infrastructure in South Carolina and ensure this transition is equitable. We want South Carolinians in all corners of the state to have access to EVs and chargers and will work to advance this through Coalition-building and partnerships.

With millions of federal dollars coming to our state for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, CVSC is building and coordinating a network to support electric transportation. The Network will serve as a space for organizational updates, networking, and collaboration. Network members will have the opportunity to coordinate around funding opportunities and grants as well as state legislation regarding EVs. Please complete the registration form to join the Network.

In the 2021-2022 Session CVSC worked to advance:

  • Wind Energy – CVSC worked with lawmakers and partners to draft and introduce a Wind Supply Chain Study bill (H.4831), which would require the Commerce Department to study the economic impacts of wind energy supply chain growth in SC, a first step in getting SC leaders excited about this new economic development cluster. The bill saw quick action in the House, but stalled in the Senate when an unrelated amendment about the Carolina Panthers was added. The Panthers amendment was removed in conference committee and the final bill is expected to easily pass both chambers.
  • Reducing Costs for Storm Cleanup and Coal Plant Closures: CVSC  worked with Rep. Wetmore to introduce H.5162, which authorized securitization for both storm recovery and coal closure costs. We worked closely with Rep. Wetmore to highlight the benefits of this bill vs a more limited bill supported by the utilities. Despite our attempts, a storm-only securitization bill (S.1077) passed the House and Senate with the utility’s limited language that does not provide as robust cost-savings for customers. Through our advocacy for reducing costs for coal plant closures, several legislators pledged to address coal closure securitization in a separate bill next session.

Read more about our legislative priorities and the status of these bills here.

Our Impact

In 2020 & 2021, CVSC advanced pro-conservation policy, helped pass landmark legislation with the Santee Cooper reform bill, drove 1.3 million voter contacts, and secured 88% success rate in the elections. Our successes are a testament to conservations bipartisan appeal and CVSC’s legacy of building consensus across the aisle.