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Our Greenville and Spartanburg offices have closed while Upstate Forever staff work from home to help protect the health of each other, our families, and our communities. But while we are not together in the office, we remain together in our continued efforts to protect our region's critical lands, waters, and unique character.
March 3rd, 2019
By Shelley Robbins
The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act (H. 3659) aka The Solar Bill sat quietly this past week after passing the House unanimously last week, but we need for it to move. Upstate jobs are at stake (read more here). The net metering cap for residential rooftop solar in Duke Energy's Upstate territory expires on March 15. You can tell the Senate to get this bill moving here. A sub-committee hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 6 upon Senate adjournment (approximately 12:45pm). You can watch it here.
In a show of good faith, SCE&G announced that it would extend its net metering program voluntarily until May 3. Duke Energy, on the other hand, has continued to deploy its lobbyists in the Senate to try to squeeze even more out of South Carolina and out of this bill that was meticulously crafted as a compromise by the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. Large employers in South Carolina, however, are telling the Senate: Enough. Pass the bill. The list to date includes Upstate businesses such as Milliken, Inman Mills, William Barnet and Son, Johnson Development Associates, Sage Automotive, Metromont, United Community Bank, and giants such as WalMart, Target, Home Depot and Volvo — and more. Please add your voice. Upstate Senators Glenn Reese, Scott Talley, and Karl Allen have already indicated strong support for the bill so please thank them.
We highlighted Audubon's involvement on energy issues earlier this year, and they will host a webinar on Thursday evening March 7 at 6:30 where you can learn more about getting involved on energy issues. Register for the free webinar here.
And Conservation Voters of South Carolina will be at the Community Tap in Greenville (217 Wade Hampton Blvd.) on Monday night, March 4 from 6-7:30 to talk about several legislative issues, including energy and plastics, and to tell you how you can get involved. Register for that here.
S. 394, unfortunately co-sponsored by Upstate Senator Scott Talley, got a sub-committee hearing last Wednesday but no vote was taken, and Senator Massey promised to hold several more hearings to make sure all voices are heard. 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. And this article by Sammy Fretwell from The State last week indicates that micro-plastic pollution has even been found in Columbia drinking water. 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 design standards. 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.
Upstate Representative Davey Hiott's H. 3483 that strengthens protections against coal ash contamination passed the House on the floor unanimously, passed out of its Senate sub-committee this week and is awaiting a full committee hearing. Thank you to Upstate Senator Rex Rice for shepherding this bill in the Senate.
Upstate Senator Danny Verdin's S. 362, passed the Senate on Thursday! 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. Now it heads to the House.
The Annual SC Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast will be March 19 and registration for the FREE event is now open! Register here for part or all of the day. And if you need a ride to and from the Upstate, contact Ben Cardew at CVSC here. The day starts at 10am in the Capital City Club overlooking the Statehouse grounds, where you will get advocacy training, followed by a trip to the Statehouse. The day ends with everyone's favorite oyster roast at 701 Whaley St. in Columbia. This is the same day as Upstate Forever's Crossroads Campaign celebration in Greenville, so we will see you in Columbia in the morning but will miss the oysters. And we do love oysters.
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