Legislative Updates 2024: April 8 - 12

April 17th, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller

The SC Public Service Commission hearing from Greenville residents about energy rate hikes


  • Takeaways from Duke Energy Carolinas’ rate case hearings, still time to attend a hearing in Seneca, Spartanburg, and Anderson
  • SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) passes Senate Judiciary
  • SC Finance Committee passes budget


We have just four weeks left in the legislative session. With crossover behind us, there are certainly reasons to celebrate, but we have more to focus on as we enter these last weeks of session. There’s still time to get involved, especially with the House Energy Bill (H.5118) moving forward, so please be on the lookout for opportunities to engage with your lawmakers or other ways to be a voice for conservation and your community.

Need to catch up on news from previous weeks? Remember that you can always access our Legislative Updates here.

News from the Statehouse

SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) passes Senate Judiciary Committee

Last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) was a strange but telling example of what can happen when legislation is rushed. The hearing revealed that most committee members didn’t have time to read the bill or a subcommittee amendment. What followed was a lengthy debate over concerns about the process.

Nevertheless, the bill passed the full Committee and is headed to the Senate floor. The amendment does not substantially change the bill (see details below), but it was offered with full knowledge that more work is needed to reach a consensus on a number of items. We look forward to working with Senators to find that common ground.

Notably, the amendment adopted by Senate Judiciary:

  • adds that an appeal for a permit or agency decision (by individuals whose private property rights are harmed by an energy project) must first produce a record at the Administrative Law Court before heading to the SC Supreme Court.
  • adds that a report that addresses updates to utility transmission plans must be included in utility 15-year Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs). The report must describe how it evaluated a range of transmission solutions, alternative technologies, and transmission investments. The plan must also discuss transmission considerations for facilities included in approved IRPs for which specific sites have been specified. Importantly, it must provide information so that stakeholders can pursue participation in local transmission planning collaboratives.
  • adds a new section that requires any energy construction project over $500 million will be monitored by an independent analyst at the Office of Regulatory Staff, who will provide reports to lawmakers and the Public Service Commission.

On balance, we would like to see changes to H.5118 that add ratepayer protections for the Canadys Plant and other energy infrastructure prescribed by the bill; level the playing field for solar; improve public notice for property owners facing eminent domain as a result of the projects facilitated by the bill; and the removal of the “anchor tenant” provision that would result in the state taking on unreasonable liability to enter into contracts to secure natural gas pipeline capacity.

Senate Finance passes budget

The Senate Finance Committee passed its version of the state budget last week, working off of the version that came out of the House in March. We will do a deeper dive into the budget in the coming weeks.

Here are a few highlights from the Senate Finance Committee’s budget that are different from the House budget:

  • $19.5 Million for Conservation Bank grants, including:
    • $5 million increase in recurring funding, and
    • $3 million in funds for the new Working Agriculture Lands Fund (established with the passage of H.3951)
  • $10 Million to DNR for habitat protection and land conservation
  • $4 Million to the S.C. Office of Resilience Disaster Relief & Reserve Fund
  • A proviso establishing a seven-member legislative committee to study surface water and provide a report by March 1, 2025.
  • A proviso establishing a PFAS pilot program to implement emerging technologies removing PFAS compounds from industrial wastewater (critically important after the EPA’s recent announcement setting PFAS limits for our drinking water).

Takeaways form Duke Energy Carolinas' rate case hearings

The Public Service Commission held its first public hearing on the Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) request to increase rates [Docket No. 2023-388-E] on April 8th at Wade Hampton High School in Greenville. With dozens of community members in attendance, the Commission heard powerful testimony calling attention to the impact an increase in electric rates would have on households, as well as ratepayers experiencing rising bills despite making energy efficiency upgrades. 

The Commissioners reiterated that they are committed to hearing directly from DEC customers before rendering a decision in this case.

There is still time for your voice to be heard at one of the upcoming public hearings. If you missed the registration date for speaking at the hearing, you can still attend.

Click here to learn more about the rate hike, how to submit comments, or sign up for the remaining hearings at the following locations:

Seneca High School Auditorium
100 Bobcat Ridge, Seneca, 29678
Tuesday, April 16 | 6:00 p.m.

Anderson County Council Chambers
101 South Main Street, Anderson, 29624
Monday, April 22 | 6:00 p.m. 
Register to speak by April 19

Spartanburg County Council Chambers
366 North Church Street, Spartanburg, 29303
Tuesday, April 23 | 6:00 p.m.
Register to speak by April 19

the week ahead

Tuesday (4/16), 2:00 pm: the full Senate Judiciary Committee will be meeting to continue the conversation on S.909. You can watch the hearing here.

Tuesday (4/16), 6:00 pm in Seneca: residents will have the opportunity to give public comments on the proposed rate increase from Duke Energy Carolinas. Click here to learn more about the rate hike, how to submit comments, or sign up for a hearing.

Wednesday (4/17), 9:00 am: the Fiscal Oversight Subcommittee of the Joint Bond Review Committee will hear from Santee Cooper.

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

Odds and Ends and Actions:

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