We’ve completed a market and feasibility report exploring the role of a green bank in South Carolina, published September 2022 and finalized December 2022. This report is the culmination of a multi-year process that included a comprehensive market assessment and interviews with over 60 organizations across South Carolina, conducted by the University of South Carolina. This effort arose out of a stakeholder-driven process under the EE Roadmap Intiative from the State Energy Office of the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff. Our research shows that a green bank could play a vital role in accelerating sustainability and resilience while bringing economic benefits to the state.
Green banks work by identifying financial barriers that limit or prevent families or businesses from making investments that would save them money and help the environment. The average household in the state spends 3% of its monthly income on energy costs (a statistic called energy burden), but the households with below average income routinely have energy burdens exceeding 5%. Energy burden can exceed 20% or more for the lowest income households.
In the residential energy efficiency sector there are a variety of ways to invest money into energy-saving upgrades such as home weatherization, energy efficient appliances, replacing an older HVAC unit with an efficient heat pump, etc. According to one estimate, 99% of all households in South Carolina would save on their energy bills by making energy efficiency investments, saving hundreds of dollars a year and generating jobs for local businesses. Homeowners, landlords and renters may have access to tax credits, grants, or other forms of assistance from a variety of institutions. However, these sometimes do not fully eliminate the up-front cost associated with the home upgrade.
If this financial barrier prevents the home upgrade, then these energy savings are unrealized and financial assistance goes unused. Green bank programs, often in concert with other financial institutions, seek to eliminate financial barriers. For example, innovative finance tools like on-bill financing can allow renters to access the same benefits as homeowners by paying for an investment with the energy savings on their utility bill. Green Banks measure their impact over time by seeking to increase energy savings and jobs while decreasing environmental harm by reducing carbon pollution through its projects.
Explore the maps below to see how this issue might impact your community. Hover over or click your county to see data for your community.