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February 24th, 2019
By Shelley Robbins
The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act (H. 3659) aka The Solar Bill passed the House on second reading unanimously on Thursday and got a perfunctory third reading on Friday, crossing over to the Senate this coming week. The Senate companion bill, S. 332 — and possibly H. 3659 as well — will get another hearing on Thursday, though that meeting isn't yet on the calendar. While the entire House voted to pass the bill, some legislators made an even stronger statement of support by signing on to the bill — see the graphic above to see the 13 Upstate Representatives (out of 50 total statewide) who signed on and please thank them!
The current language was carefully negotiated and crafted by the House Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) committee, but we are hearing that Duke Energy is still seeking changes to the utility-scale components. The changes they seek would strangle competition, leaving only their own unregulated company, Duke Energy Renewables, to build solar in South Carolina, further cementing their monopoly position. So we support the LCI Compromise language in the Senate. We think competition is a good thing. A summary of the LCI Compromise language is here. We will have an action center for you closer to "crunch time" but always feel free to write or call your legislators. They want to hear from YOU. And thank you to the Upstate Senators who have signed on to S. 332: Glenn Reese (Spartanburg), Scott Talley (Spartanburg) and Karl Allen (Greenville).
Upstate Representative Davey Hiott's H. 3483 that strengthens protections against coal ash contamination passed the House on the floor unanimously and will have it's Senate sub-committee hearing on Tuesday. Thank you to Upstate Senator Rex Rice for shepherding this bill in the Senate.
Upstate Senator Danny Verdin's S. 362, passed unanimously out of full committee with a favorable report and is now on the Senate floor. 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.
S. 394, unfortunately co-sponsored by Upstate Senator Scott Talley, is getting a sub-committee hearing this coming Wednesday at 11am. Here is an excellent op-ed by Spartanburg City Council member Alan Jenkins that summarizes our own opposition to this bill. And this op-ed by Arcadia Lakes Mayor Mark Huguley further explains local concerns. We believe that local communities should have reasonable flexibility in how they respond to plastics pollution. Read more about the issue here. Upstate Senators Tom Corbin and Mike Gambrell sit on the subcommittee, so if they are your senator, please ask them to oppose this bill here.
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!
Energy and State Policy Director