South Carolina Laws and Incentives
Listed below are the summaries of all current South Carolina laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality. You can go directly to summaries of:
South Carolina's National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Planning
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) NEVI Formula Program requires the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to submit an annual EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan (Plan) to the DOT and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (Joint Office), describing how the state intends to distribute NEVI funds. The submitted plans must be established according to NEVI guidance.
For more information about South Carolina’s NEVI planning process, see the SCDOT Electric Vehicle Charging Plan website. To review South Carolina’s NEVI plan, see the Joint Office State Plans for EV Charging website.
Biofuels Production Tax Credit
Beginning January 1, 2017, qualified biodiesel and ethanol facilities are eligible for an income tax credit of $0.075 per gallon for new production of biodiesel and ethanol. Biodiesel and ethanol facilities may claim the tax credit for up to 10 million gallons of ethanol and biodiesel produced during a 12-consecutive month period, up to 36 months. Additional terms and conditions apply. For more information, see the South Carolina Energy Office Funding website.
Battery Manufacturing Tax Incentive
For taxation purposes, the taxable fair market value of manufacturing machinery and equipment purchased for use at a renewable energy manufacturing facility may be reduced by 20% of the original cost. Qualified renewable energy manufacturing facilities include those manufacturing batteries for hybrid electric, fuel cell, or other motor vehicles certified by the South Carolina Energy Office. Qualified facilities must invest at least $100 million in the project and create at least 200 new full-time jobs with an average compensation level of 150% of the annual per capita income in South Carolina or the county where the facility is located, whichever is less. Additional restrictions apply.
Alternative Fueling Infrastructure Tax Credit
An income tax credit is available for 25% of the cost to purchase, construct, and install qualified alternative fueling infrastructure. Qualified infrastructure includes equipment used to distribute, dispense, or store alternative fuel. Eligible fuels include natural gas and propane. The entire credit must be taken in three equal annual installments beginning with the taxable year in which the facility is placed into service. Unused credits may be carried forward for up to ten succeeding taxable years. A taxpayer may transfer the tax credit to eligible agencies after notifying the South Carolina Department of Revenue. This tax credit expires January 1, 2026.
Biofuels Distribution Infrastructure Tax Credit
A taxpayer that purchases, constructs, or installs, and places into service a qualified commercial facility for distributing or dispensing biofuels is eligible for an income tax credit of up to 25% for purchase, construction, property, and installation costs. Eligible infrastructure includes pumps, storage tanks, and related equipment used exclusively for distributing, dispensing, and storing biofuels. A qualified facility must clearly label the equipment used to store or dispense the fuel as being associated with biofuel. The credit must be taken in three equal annual installments beginning with the taxable year in which the facility is placed into service. Qualifying fuels include blends containing at least 70% ethanol (E70) dispensed at the retail level for use in motor vehicles, and pure ethanol or biodiesel fuel dispensed by a distributor or facility that blends these non-petroleum liquids with gasoline or diesel fuel for use in motor vehicles.
For more information, see the South Carolina Energy Office Funding website.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 12-6-3620)
Alternative Fuel Project Grants
The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff-Energy Office (Energy Office) offers grants of up to $10,000 for alternative fuel demonstration projects. Eligible applicants include state agencies, local governments, public colleges and universities, K-12 public schools, and non-profit organizations. For more information, including how to apply, see the Energy Office’s Loans, Grants & Tax Incentives website.
Diesel Emissions Reduction Grants
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) provides U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) funding for projects that reduce diesel emissions in South Carolina. Funding for eligible project costs is available to universities, private organizations, businesses, and local government entities that reduce diesel emissions by retrofitting engines, installing idle reduction technologies, or replacing vehicles and equipment. Additional terms and conditions apply. For more information, including funding amounts and how to apply, see the SCDHEC DERA Grants website.
Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Tax Exemption
The following are exempt from state sales tax: 1) any device, equipment, or machinery operated by hydrogen or fuel cells; 2) any device, equipment, or machinery used to generate, produce, or distribute hydrogen and designated specifically for hydrogen or fuel cell applications; and 3) any device, equipment, or machinery used predominantly for manufacturing, or research and development involving hydrogen or fuel cell technologies.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 12-36-2120(71))
Idle Reduction and Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Weight Exemptions
Any motor vehicle or combination of vehicles equipped with idle reduction technology is allowed to exceed the maximum gross vehicle and axle weight limits by up to 550 pounds (lbs) to compensate for the added weight of the idle reduction technology. The vehicle operator must provide documentation that the vehicle is equipped with fully functional idle reduction technology.
A vehicle powered primarily by natural gas may exceed the state’s gross, single axle, tandem axle, or bridge formula weight limits by an amount equal to the difference of the weight of the natural gas tank and fueling system and the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system, up to 2,000 lbs. Upon request, the vehicle operator must provide documentation that verifies the weight of the natural gas fueling system.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Revolving Loan Program for Public Entities
The South Carolina Energy Office (SCEO) provides low interest loans for a variety of energy efficiency improvements, including AFV conversions and the incremental costs of a new AFV, with qualified project payback periods. Loans may cover up to 100% of project costs, ranging from $25,000 to $500,000 per state fiscal year. Eligible recipients include state agencies, local governments, public colleges and universities, school districts, and private non-profit organizations. State agencies and public educational institutions may combine their loan with a ConserFund Plus grant, which may cover up to 30% of total project costs. For more information, see the ConserFund website.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 48-52-650)
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Revolving Loan Program for Private Entities
The South Carolina Business Development Corporation provides low interest loans for a variety of energy efficiency improvements, including AFV conversions and incremental costs, with qualified project payback periods. Eligible recipients include businesses and industries. Utilities, non-profit organizations, and government entities may be eligible under special conditions. The loan may cover up to 100% of the project costs, ranging from $50,000 to $1 million. Repayment terms vary. For more information, including application deadlines, see the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan website.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 48-52-650)
Utility / Private Incentives
Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Incentive – Duke Energy
Duke Energy offers to install and maintain direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations across Duke Energy’s service territory at no cost to site hosts until 2026. DCFC stations will be installed at a maximum of 30 locations and site host applications will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible sites must be located within one mile of a major interstate or highway and the DCFC stations must be publicly accessible. Additional terms and conditions apply. For more information, see the Duke Energy Host an EV Fast Charger website.
Residential Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Station Rebate - Santee Cooper
Santee Cooper offers residential customers a rebate of up to $250 for the purchase of a qualified Level 2 EV charging station. For more information, see the Santee Cooper EVs website.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Support
South Carolina utilities joined the National Electric Highway Coalition (NEHC), committing to create a network of direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations connecting major highway systems from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific of the United States. NEHC utility members agree to ensure efficient and effective fast charging deployment plans that enable long distance EV travel, avoiding duplication among coalition utilities, and complement existing corridor DCFC sites. For more information, including a list of participating utilities and states, see the NEHC website.
Laws and Regulations
Biofuel Blending Capability Requirements and Liability
Terminal operators and other entities involved in the bulk transfer of gasoline or diesel, including suppliers and refiners, must offer all grades of petroleum products not already pre-blended with ethanol and biodiesel, and ensure that the motor fuel is suitable for subsequent blending with biofuels. Terminal operators and other bulk suppliers are not liable for fines, penalties, injuries, or damages resulting from subsequent blending of fuel sold at retail locations. Furthermore, no individual or entity can deny a distributor and retailer from blending biofuels for sale in South Carolina, as long as the individual or entity is registered with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 39-41-235)
Electric Vehicle (EV) Cost Recovery
A public electric utility may seek recovery of the costs associated with programs and resources related to distributed energy resources and load management technologies, including EV charging, as part of a rate case filing through the South Carolina Public Service Commission.
Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Permitting and Safety
Individuals or entities must submit an application and pay a $10 fee to the State Fire Marshall or a certified designee before renovating or constructing a facility to store or dispense hydrogen fuel. The South Carolina State Fire Marshall must ensure that the state laws governing hydrogen fueling infrastructure are executed faithfully; require compliance with nationally recognized fire prevention and protection standards for hydrogen fueling infrastructure; develop training and certification requirements for county and municipal officials to permit hydrogen fueling infrastructure; develop minimum requirements for the design, construction, location, installation, and operation of equipment for storing, handling, and dispensing hydrogen; and perform random inspections of licensed fueling infrastructure.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle Fee
Owners of plug-in electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles must pay a biennial fee of $120, in addition to standard registration fees. Hybrid electric vehicle owners must pay a biennial fee of $60.
Idle Reduction Requirement
Vehicle operators may not idle any commercial diesel vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds for more than 10 minutes in any one-hour period. Exemptions apply for the following: traffic conditions; prevention of safety or health emergencies; emergency or law enforcement; maintenance, service, repair, or diagnostic purposes; state or federal inspections; power work-related operations; loading or unloading; sleeper berth temperature control during 1) rest or sleep periods, 2) times when the ambient outside air temperature is less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or greater than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3) at rest areas, terminals, truck stops, or legal parking locations greater than 500 feet from homes, schools, hospitals, or daycare facilities. Violators are subject to a $75 fine for each offense. A portion of the fine will go towards the Diesel Idling Reduction Fund operated by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to develop an idling awareness program.
Biodiesel Blend Distribution Mandate
All state-owned diesel fueling facilities must provide fuel containing at least 5% biodiesel (B5) at all diesel pumps.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 12-63-30)
State Agency Preference for Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicles
State agencies purchasing motor vehicles must give preference to hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric, biodiesel, hydrogen, fuel cell, or flexible fuel vehicles when the performance, quality, and anticipated life cycle costs are comparable to other available motor vehicles.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 1-11-310)
Biodiesel Use in School Buses
The South Carolina Department of Education must fuel state school bus fleets with biodiesel when feasible.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 59-67-585)
Propane Safety and Liability
An individual involved in installing propane systems or manufacturing, distributing, selling, storing, or transporting propane is immune from the civil liability associated with injury or damage associated with these activities, as long as the individual was exercising reasonable care and took steps to warn the end user of the misuses of the propane system.
Low-Speed Vehicle Access to Roadways
A low-speed vehicle is defined as a four-wheeled motor vehicle, other than an all-terrain vehicle, that is capable of reaching speeds of at least 20 miles per hour (mph) but not greater than 25 mph, has a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds, and meets the safety standards in Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. A low-speed vehicle may only operate on secondary highways with a posted speed limit of up to 35 mph but may cross a highway with posted speed limits over 35 mph at an intersection. A low-speed vehicle must be registered and licensed in the same manner as a passenger vehicle and is subject to the same insurance requirements applicable to other motor vehicles. Homemade low-speed vehicles, retrofitted golf carts, or any other similar vehicles do not qualify as low-speed vehicles.
Public Utility Definition
An entity that operates an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is not considered a public utility. Electricity must be procured from authorized electric utility, and the EV charging stations must be immobile.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 58-27-1060)
Electric Transportation Impact Studies
The Joint Committee on the Electrification of Transportation (Committee) must study the challenges and opportunities associated with transportation electrification and make recommendations to the General Assembly. The Committee must investigate the following areas:
- The environmental, economic, and customer challenges associated with electric vehicles (EVs);
- The potential value of advancing the development and deployment of EVs and associated infrastructure; and,
- The impacts of EVs on current infrastructure, customers, utilities, and electricity grid.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue must provide an annual report to the Committee on the prior fiscal year’s revenue collection for the repair, maintenance, or improvements to the South Carolina transportation system.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 58-27-260)
Transportation Electrification Utility Impact Study
No earlier than April 1, 2023, the Public Service Commission (PSC) must open a docket for the purpose of identifying the regulatory challenges and opportunities associated with transportation electrification, including:
- Grid integration and modernization efforts;
- Regulatory policies to support efficient and cost-effective transportation electrification;
- Data management and coordination;
- Grid investments to support electric vehicle (EV) deployment;
- Increased EV adoption and the development of their charging infrastructure; and,
- Rate design and load management strategies.
The PSC must also submit reports on a triennial basis to the Joint Committee on the Electrification of Transportation on regulatory issues related to transportation electrification.
Electric Transportation Stakeholder Group
The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) must engage stakeholders to explore opportunities to advance transportation electrification and identify potential challenges. Regulatory staff must work with private and public sector stakeholders to examine the legislative and regulatory environmental, economic, and customer challenges and opportunities. ORS must submit a report on opportunities to advance transportation electrification to the Joint Committee on the Electrification of Transportation on a bi-annual basis.
(Reference South Carolina Code of Laws 58-27-270)
Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Deployment Support
The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) must convene an Interagency EV Working Group (Working Group) to develop a comprehensive plan for the deployment of EV-related resources and infrastructure. The plan must provide recommendations for the deployment of EV charging infrastructure, prioritizing locations along the interstate highway system and in rural areas. The Working Group must also identify funding streams and evaluate potential implementation methods.
(Reference Executive Order 2022-31)
Electric Vehicle (EV) Deployment Support
The South Carolina Department of Commerce (Department of Commerce) established the South Carolina EV Economic Development Initiative (Initiative) to support the EV industry in South Carolina. The Initiative must create and implement a strategic approach to identify, encourage, and incentivize EV research, development, and production in South Carolina. The Initiative must also collaborate with the Interagency EV Working Group to develop a comprehensive statewide EV deployment plan.For more information, see the Department of Commerce’s SCpowersEV website.
(Reference Executive Order No. 2022-31)