Adding jobs and growing a green economy in South Carolina

UK Minister of State Gregory Barker joined Sen.. Lindsey Graham and Mayor Steve Benjamin for a discussion on the green economy. / Cheryn Stone

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- United Kingdom Minister of State Gregory Barker joined a panel of business leaders from the UK and South Carolina Friday at the Darla Moore School of Business for a panel discussion on the green economy.

Barker is considered a leader in green economies, which attempt to create jobs and sustain economic growth while addressing issues like environmental pollution.

He explained the Green Deal. That financial program will retrofit millions of homes in the UK to be more energy efficient.

"Everyone who does the green deal even after they've paid for the work that is to be done and those payments spread over 25 years they will always be better off of this will have the effect of lowering people's energy bills," he said.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin also participated in the panel, called The Green Economy: Insights from the United Kingdom and South Carolina.

Senator Graham expressed strong interest in the Green Deal.

Michael Couick with The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina said, "if we were to retrofit 225,000 homes of South Carolina Cooperative members which is our goal under a bill Senator Graham has sponsored we would create 3500 jobs in South Carolina just within the first two years."

Other panelists from the UK include Emma Howard Boyd, director of Jupiter Asset Management Limited, and Bill Rumble, group commercial director of the Mark Group.

South Carolina panelists will be Ashlie Lancaster, director of the Energy Office for the Budget and Control Board; Dave Davidson, manager of strategic business development and technology for Eaton Energy Solutions Business; Michael N. Couick, president and CEO of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina; and Chris Markert, vice president and general manager, Energy Solutions - Americas, Southeast Region Johnson Controls Inc.

Some businesses and industry groups remain opposed to green power over concerns about the cost hurting the economy.