Legislative Updates 2024: April 1 - 5

April 9th, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller

Highlights:      

  • Take action to support the EV charging station bill: Alternative Fuel Tax Credit Bill (H.3824)
  • Update: the never-ending saga on the House Energy Bill, the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118)
  • Bill to extend pipeline moratorium passes Senate
  • State Budget update
  • What to watch or attend in the week ahead

Greetings!

A last-minute hearing on the House Energy Bill (H.5118) and long days of floor debate leading up to Crossover kept the Senate busy last week. This Thursday’s deadline to pass bills out of their originating chamber will likely result in equally long days in the House while the Senate mostly continues its committee work.

Missed last week's update where we did a deep dive on the proposed rate hike from Duke Energy Carolinas and amendments to the House Energy Bill (H.5118)? You can find that update here.


News from the statehouse

Take action to support EVs

The Alternative Fuel Tax Credit (H.3824), a bill we have supported since it was introduced last year by Representative Brandon Newton, is waiting on a hearing in Senate Finance and needs one last lift to get to the finish line. As a reminder, this bill would grant an income tax credit to municipalities, state agencies, individuals, or businesses that install an EV charging station at fuel distribution or dispensing facilities.

´╗┐Please consider reaching out to your Senator, especially if they sit on the Senate Finance Committee, and ask for their support of this bill.

SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) moving faster than expected in Senate

Last week the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing was scheduled last-minute to take up the House Energy Security Act (H.5118), and it confirmed for many of us that we are on a high-speed train moving towards an uncertain, risky energy future. I encourage you to watch the committee hearing here — scroll to April 4, 2024, 9:30 am.

Some have said the development of this legislation has taken years, incorporating testimony from dozens of experts and advocates through both the House Economic and Utility Modernization Ad hoc Committee and the Energy Market Reform Study Committee. While we have appreciated the work of both committees, the bill has received substantial revisions almost every week since we have been covering it, signaling that we need more time to get it right.

The Subcommittee, chaired by Senator Luke Rankin, passed H.5118 after hearing from clean energy developer energyRe — who provided much-needed clarity on the potential impacts to the clean energy industry and to ratepayers — followed by Duke, Dominion, and Santee Cooper. It was made clear that the House version will be the only vehicle for energy reform. Without significant changes to H.5118 to protect property rights and ratepayers, we remain concerned with the bill in its current form.

In contrast, there was little discussion on Senate bill S.909, introduced by Senator Tom Davis. S.909 offers a very different vision for our energy future — one that would help meet near-term energy demand by providing a more level playing field for clean energy and creating opportunities to reduce generation needs through energy efficiency programs and modest changes to our energy markets.

The full Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the Energy Security Act (H.5118) this Tuesday, April 9, and will consider additional amendments. We'll continue to work with our partners and lawmakers to address the aspects of this bill that concern us.

Bill to extend pipeline moratorium passes Senate

Last Thursday, the Senate passed S.1088 — a bill proposed by Senator Tom Young (Aiken) that extends the current moratorium on private, for-profit petroleum pipeline companies’ use of eminent domain. We now have until June 30, 2026, to create a regulatory framework to protect property rights and ensure projects do not result in the kinds of pipeline spills the Upstate has experienced. Representative Bill Hixon (Aiken) proposed a framework (H.3155) that would have addressed many of these issues, but the bill needs additional support and is not likely to pass this year. We appreciate Senator Tom Young and Representative Bill Hixon’s leadership and commitment to ensuring a safe, fair process for constructing petroleum pipelines.

Senate Finance continues budget work

After a contentious hearing on the $1.8 billion in unaccounted state funds, the Senate Finance Committee wrapped up their subcommittee work last week. As the budget is taken up by the full Senate Finance Committee this week, we’ll remain engaged to ensure our conservation priorities are supported. After the full committee passes the budget, all Senators will be given a week to familiarize themselves with the changes before the bill is taken up on the Senate floor the week of April 23rd.


The Week Ahead

Monday (4/8), 6:00 pm at Wade Hampton High School: Greenville residents will have the opportunity to attend the proposed rate increase from Duke Energy Carolinas. While it's too late to speak at this hearing, you can still register to do so at future hearings this month. Click here to learn more about the rate hike, how to submit comments, or sign up for a hearing.

Tuesday (4/9), 10:30 am: the full Senate Finance Committee will meet to consider adopting their version of the state budget. The agenda can be found here.

Tuesday (4/9), 1:00 pm: the full Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) after passing it out of the Subcommittee last week.


Be on the lookout for additional opportunities to get involved throughout the Legislative Session and learn more about the issues that affect our daily lives. We’ll continue to keep you informed on their progress and ways to get involved throughout the legislative session! 

Until next week...

Megan Chase-Muller
State Policy Director
mchase@upstateforever.org


Odds and Ends and Actions:

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