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May 3rd, 2021
By Shelley Robbins
Sixteen weeks down and only 2 to go... sort of. The Legislature will continue to work on the State Budget through the last week of June in order to incorporate the ever-improving tax revenue projections. The Senate finished its deliberations on the budget this past week, adding funding to the agency requests and sending it back to the House to begin its overhaul that will end in June. You can keep track of the budget bills here: H. 4100 and H. 4101.
In a surprise move, S. 304, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations was amended on the House floor to add a Joint Committee on the Electrification of Transportation. This committee is charged with studying a host of issues, including the environmental, economic and customer benefits and challenges associated with EV adoption and the impact of EVs on the grid. The amendment also requires the SC Public Service Commission to open a docket to identify regulatory challenges and opportunities associated with vehicle electrification, such as grid integration of EVs, grid investment needed, changes in utility generation mix and load, rate design and load management strategies that can help mitigate negative impacts and optimize positive impacts, and data and privacy issues, among others. The amendment also codifies the work of the current EV Stakeholder Initiative, an effort launched by the SC Office of Regulatory Staff and facilitated by the Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. Upstate Forever is part of this current stakeholder effort.
Because of this (excellent) amendment, the bill will need to head back to the Senate for concurrence before it can head to the Governor's desk.
H. 3120, the Trails Tax Credit Bill filed by Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde was heard in a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Wednesday. Partners for Active Living Executive Director Laura Ringo and OneSpartanburg President and CEO Allen Smith joined Upstate Forever to testify in support of the bill, which was approved and even gained a few more cosponsors. You can watch the hearing here (scroll down to Wednesday, April 28, 9am, House Ways and Means Sales and Use Tax and Income Tax Legislation Subcommittee). Read more about the bill here. The bill has great support from state groups such as the Palmetto Cycling Coalition as well as national groups like the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Check out the ACTION CENTER.
The Santee Cooper reform package that was amended into H. 3194 may finally get a floor debate this week. The bill requires the state-owned utility to be regulated in a way that is similar to the investor-owned utilities (Dominion and Duke Energy). A sale is no longer being considered in this legislation, and NextEra has formally withdrawn its offer to buy Santee Cooper.
Upstate Forever supports the new language. It provides for much more scrutiny of Santee Cooper's future generation decisions and strengthens renewables and other non-fossil fuel options (thereby lessening, though not eliminating, the risk of yet another Upstate pipeline project).
The hearing for S. 2 — the DHEC Breakup Bill — originally scheduled for April 7 and postponed an additional two times - did finally get a hearing on Wednesday and is scheduled for another one this coming week (Wednesday May 5 at 9:30am) in order to hear from impacted state agencies (DHEC and DNR addressed the subcommittee this past week). You can watch the upcoming hearing here. Read more about this bill here.
H. 3120 Trails Tax Credit Bill ACTION CENTER.
H. 3979 Solar HOA Bill ACTION CENTER.
H. 3514 PFAS Bill ACTION CENTER. Deep Dive on PFAS here. PFAS Lobby Week webinar featuring Upstate Forever's Clean Water Advocate Megan Chase here.
Until next week...
Energy and State Policy Director
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