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March 10th, 2019
By Shelley Robbins
With more logos on it than a NASCAR driver's uniform, a letter of support for the Solar Bill from thirty-one of state's top companies was presented to the South Carolina Senate this week. The letter specifically supports the language in The South Carolina Energy Freedom Act (H. 3659) as passed unanimously by the House last month.
But Duke Energy, a regulated monopoly, is continuing to ask for changes that will make competitive utility scale solar projects unfinanceable, leaving us all at the mercy of natural gas prices that will rise in the next 10 years as US energy exports increase. Duke conceded in testimony this week that they agree with everything else in the bill; they are using this one issue — increased competition — to hold the bill up.
Upstate jobs are at stake (read more here). The net metering cap for residential rooftop solar in Duke Energy's Upstate territory expires on this Friday, March 15. You can tell the Senate to get this bill moving out of committee and to the floor here. The next sub-committee hearing is Thursday, March 14.
S. 394, unfortunately co-sponsored by Upstate Senator Scott Talley, gets another sub-committee hearing on March 20. We are hearing from so many of our Upstate councilpersons that they oppose this over-reach. In case you missed them, 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 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 fees and 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 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.
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.
Until next week!
Energy and State Policy Director