Legislative Updates 2019: Week 12

Legislative Updates 2019: Week 12

March 31st, 2019
By Shelley Robbins

Solar moves! House strengthens utility oversight; a new plastics issue pops up

The highlights:

  • The Energy Freedom Act H. 3659 has finally moved out of Senate subcommittee
  • A new bill strengthening utility oversight races through the House
  • Plastics pyrolysis bill moves, needs improvement
  • Bill updates

The details:

The Solar Bill was finally voted out of Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Thursday with a vote of 4-1. We thank Upstate Senator and subcommittee chair Mike Gambrell (Anderson) for his leadership and diligent effort to try to get full consensus on the bill (which simply was not possible). There was a clear recognition in this meeting that Duke Energy will not yield on terms that increase competition in large-scale solar, and they have the support of one senator on the subcommittee (Wes Climer from York County). The bill now moves to the full Judiciary Committee this coming week. Here is where the bill is in the process:

Once it passes out of full committee, it will move to the Senate floor. Here is the full Senate Judiciary Committee. Upstate members include Senators Mike Gambrell (Anderson), Richard Cash (Anderson), Ross Turner (Greenville), Rex Rice (Pickens), and Scott Talley (Spartanburg). If any of these are your senator, drop them a note here.

Would you like to show up in person to support this bill? There will be a Rally for Energy Freedom on Tuesday, April 2 at 1pm on the Statehouse steps. You can learn more and RSVP here.

Bill Strengthening Utility Regulation Moves

An omnibus energy regulatory reform bill that has been sitting quietly is now on the move. H. 4260 (the South Carolina Ratepayer Protection Act) strengthens energy regulatory oversight for investor-owned utilities. Upstate Representatives Gary Clary (Pickens) and Bill Sandifer (Oconee) have both signed on to this bill. You can read a summary here. The bill passed second reading on the House floor just days after the first hearings, but the issues were debated extensively last year, so most members were already familiar with the flaws in the state's regulatory structure. This bill will now head to the Senate after a perfunctory third reading this week.

Other Bills We Are Watching

H. 3656, the Complete Streets Bill, explained here several weeks ago, got a hearing last week but likely will not make the "crossover date" of April 10. If it doesn't, we will continue to work on this bill through next year.

Upstate Representative Davey Hiott's H. 3483 that strengthens protections against coal ash contamination passed the House on the floor unanimouslypassed out of full Senate Judiciary this week and is on the Senate floor. Almost there!

Upstate Senator Danny Verdin's S. 362, passed the Senate and has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee and we are hearing the committee may take it up soon. 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.

The Plastics "Ban-Ban" bill S. 394 sat quietly this week, no hearings. 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.

Odds and Ends and Actions:

Would you rather receive these weekly Legislative Updates in your inbox? You can sign up to do so right here. The Legislative Update will hit your mailbox every Sunday evening during session (January through May).

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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