Legislative Updates 2019: Week 11

Legislative Updates 2019: Week 11

March 24th, 2019
By Shelley Robbins

Duke extends net-metering; Lobby Day was great!

The highlights:

  • Duke will continue accepting net-metering applications
  • FOURTH solar hearing is Thursday; action needed
  • Complete Streets bill gets a hearing
  • Omnibus energy regulatory reform bills start to move

The details:

First, Conservation Lobby Day last Tuesday was GREAT. Look at that huge turnout (above)! Thank you so much to everyone from the Upstate who took the time to go to Columbia for advocacy training, speaking with legislators in the Statehouse, and attending the oyster roast. Next year's Lobby Day will be March 18, 2020, so mark your calendars! Thanks to the SC Conservation Coalition for organizing!

This past week, Senator Gambrell announced that Duke Energy Carolinas had agreed to continue accepting applications for the current residential solar net-metering program, avoiding a significant shock to the residential solar industry in the Upstate. The program technically expired on March 15 without a replacement. Thank you, Duke Energy, for avoiding this disruption while we continue working the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act (H. 3659) (aka the Solar Bill) through the Senate.

The Solar Bill will get its FOURTH sub-committee hearing Thursday, March 28, upon adjournment of the Senate that day. It will be livestreamed and you can watch it here. Estimated start time is 12:45pm. Please keep telling your senators that this bill needs to get voted out of sub-committee this week. You can take action here. And if you'd like to read the latest news on the bill, here's a great article from The Statehouse Report.

And there will be a Rally for Energy Freedom in support of the Solar Bill on Tuesday, April 2 at 1pm on the Statehouse steps. You can learn more and RSVP here.

Complete Streets Bill gets a hearing

We explained H. 3656, the Complete Streets Bill, here several weeks ago. We are pleased to see that it will get a sub-committee hearing this Tuesday one hour after the House adjourns. The bill has been assigned to the Transportation sub-committee of the Education and Public Works Committee. Upstate Representative Tommy Stringer of the Greer area is chair of this sub-committee, so if you live in his district, please drop him an e-mail or call him. His contact page is here. Upstate Representative Rita Allison is chair of the full Education and Public Works Committee, so if she is your representative, her contact page is here. Not sure who your representative is? You can find out here. And the hearing will be livestreamed here if you want to tune in. The House will reconvene at noon on Tuesday and they are rarely in for less than an hour, so start looking for broadcast around 1pm.

Other Bills We Are Watching

Two omnibus energy regulatory reform bills that have been sitting quietly are now on the move. H. 4260 (the South Carolina Ratepayer Protection Act) and H. 4261 are both good bills that strengthen energy regulatory oversight for both investor-owned utilities and for Santee Cooper. The bills have strong leadership support and both passed out of sub-committee last week. They are scheduled for the full House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, chaired by Upstate Representative Bill Sandifer at 11am on Tuesday, March 26. We will keep you posted. Vice-chair is Upstate Representative Mike Forrester.

The Plastics "Ban-Ban" bill S. 394 got another sub-committee hearing this past week featuring the testimony of many South Carolina mayors. We believe that local communities should have reasonable flexibility in how they respond to plastics pollution and that this bill sets a dangerous precedent for other issues such as local fees and design standards. Read more about the issue here. Upstate Senators Tom Corbin and Mike Gambrell sit on the sub-committee, so if they are your senator, please ask them to oppose this bill here.

Upstate Representative Davey Hiott's H. 3483 that strengthens protections against coal ash contamination passed the House on the floor unanimouslypassed out of its Senate sub-committee this week and is awaiting a full committee hearing.

Upstate Senator Danny Verdin's S. 362, passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. This bill creates a tax credit for large solar projects that are built on Superfund and Voluntary Cleanup sites. This bill gets these stabilized contaminated sites that cannot otherwise be developed back on the county tax roles producing both revenue and clean energy. This concept is a perfect win-win. We thank Upstate Senators Glenn Reese (Spartanburg) and Rex Rice (Pickens) for adding their names to this bill.

Odds and Ends and Actions

Did your senator or representative do something awesome this week? Tell them! Use this link to find out who represents you, and if you love a bill they are supporting, please let them know. You can also just use the link to tell them what is important to you.

If opposition to offshore seismic testing and drilling are your passion, you can take action here.

Until next week!

Shelley Robbins
Energy and State Policy Director

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