SC spends more than $1 billion in imported coal

With no coal supply, South Carolina spent more than a billion dollars importing it.

Investing in energy and investing in energy efficiency comes with a price.

A study released Tuesday by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows South Carolina spent $1.1 billion on imported coal in 2008, and based on state population "- that breaks down to $245 per person; ranking South Carolina 4th out of 38 state that import foreign and domestic coal.

One of the most efficient and affordable ways to actually reduce coal-fired demand and thus demand for imported coal in South Carolina would be to invest heavily in energy efficient technologies, said senior energy analyst Jeff Deyette.

SCE&G uses coal to power its some 650,000 customers. Company spokesman Eric Boomhower agrees that investing in renewable technology is important to the nation's energy future.

I think certainly your starting to see a shift away from coal in this country, says Boomhower, but it's going to take time. It's certainly not something you can turn a switch on and make that happen overnight.

The UCS recommends South Carolina tap into its natural resources, which they say could supply more than 2.5 times the state's 2008 power demand.

Boomhower argues that depending on bio, solar and off-shore wind power comes with a host of practical challenges for utilities such as, reliability of around-the-clock energy and the costs involved in developing these supplies.

The electricity we produce burning coal today costs us roughly 45-dollars for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity that we generate, said Boomhower.

In comparison -- to build, operate, and maintain a bio-mass plant, it would cost SCE&G more than twice as much as using their current operations.

Boomhower says in today's energy landscape, SCE&G officials don't believe the "green" options are viable solutions to meet current consumer demand.