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Legislative Updates 2024: March 18 - 22

March 27th, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller

Highlights:      

  • Trails Tax Credit bill (H.3121) passes Senate!
  • Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act (H.5118) is amended and passed out of the LCI Committee – House floor debate next week
  • Movement on Senate Energy Reform Bill (S.909)
  • Register now: Attend a hearing near you on the Duke Energy Carolinas proposed 20% rate hike 

what a week!

After three hearings on the House and Senate energy bills (H.5118 and S.909) last week, and several substantial changes to each, it would be fair to expect heated debate on the House floor this week. We need our lawmakers to be as informed as possible on this consequential legislation, so please reach out to your Representative to talk to them about the need for a balanced approach to energy generation.

Missed last week’s update where we discussed progress on the State Budget and the latest news on the NPDES Sign bill? Read that update here.


news from the statehouse

Trails bill passes Senate!

Last week, we were thrilled to see the Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121) pass the Senate unanimously! This bill has been a top priority for us since it was introduced and championed by Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde. By offering a tax credit (10 cents per square foot) to property owners who agree to add a voluntary, perpetual trail easement, the state is recognizing the value of this generosity to communities and signaling to companies looking to locate here that South Carolina prioritizes quality of life for its residents. The bill now heads back to the House for concurrence with a minor amendment that adjusts the date to reflect an updated timeline.

Two bills, three committee meetings, and a rush against the clock

The pace for the Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act (H.5118) accelerated last week when the House LCI Public Utilities Subcommittee met Tuesday to amend the bill and send it to the full committee. They even changed the bill name to the “SC Energy Security Act.” With lawmakers and staff working late into the night, the full LCI Committee took up an additional amendment Wednesday morning and passed the bill with a favorable report.

With the bill scheduled for debate on the House floor this week, your Representative needs to hear from you about the importance of public notice and sufficient review for energy projects, and the need to meet near-term energy demand with solar, energy efficiency, and other resources that can be brought online in the next 2 - 4 years, not the next decade. You can reach out to your legislator here.

As amended, H.5118 retains legislative endorsements for a massive combined cycle natural gas plant as well as language that authorizes Santee Cooper to serve as an “anchor subscriber” for natural gas and pipeline capacity, which could facilitate a substantial buildout of pipelines cutting through private property. The amendments also addressed several of our concerns about the bill, including language that would have compromised PSC decisions on natural gas plants and other proposed limits on public and advocate interactions with the PSC.

On balance, we remain concerned with aspects of the bill that endorse risky investments without public disclosures, facilitate unnecessary buildout of pipeline infrastructure, and compromise consumer protections and private property rights.

Senate Judiciary Subcommittee begins energy work

The Senate’s version of an energy omnibus bill, the Energy Reform Act (S.909), received a subcommittee hearing last week as well, fueling questions on the similarities and differences between the two bills. Senator Tom Davis (Beaufort) explained this bill's genesis and an amendment that would provide substantial ´╗┐improvements. You can watch last week’s subcommittee hearing here. Stay tuned for more analysis on this bill as the conversation progresses.

What’s clear is that there are multiple bills, including the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) and the Energy Reform Act (S.909), presenting very different visions for our energy future, and lawmakers have important decisions ahead.


Register now: 

Upcoming Public Hearings on Duke Energy Carolinas Rate Increase

On August 1st, Duke Energy Carolinas customers could see higher energy bills of up to 20% over two years from a proposed rate hike. The Public Service Commission is hosting five public hearings across the Upstate and others in Columbia starting in early April. We encourage your participation in these hearings to highlight how an increase in electric rates will impact your household and push for exploring cost-effective renewable energy solutions.

Register to testify here

If you do not wish to testify at the hearing, you can submit a Letter of Protest via email at contact@psc.sc.gov or by mail to 101 Executive Center Drive, Suite 100, Columbia, SC 29210.

Wade Hampton High School Auditorium
100 Pine Knoll Dr, Greenville, 29609
Monday, April 8 | 6:00 p.m.
Register by April 4

Greenwood 50 Performing Arts Center
1816 Cokesbury Rd, Greenwood, 29649
Thursday, April 11 | 6:00 p.m.
Register by April 9

Seneca High School Auditorium
100 Bobcat Ridge, Seneca, 29678
Tuesday, April 16 | 6:00 p.m.
Register by April 12

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

Spartanburg County Council Chambers
366 N Church St, Spartanburg, 29303
Tuesday, April 23 | 6:00 p.m.
Register by April 19

Public Service Commission Hearing Room
101 Executive Center Dr, Suite 100, Columbia, 29210
Monday, May 20 | 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and
Tuesday, May 21 - Friday, 24 | 10:00 a.m.

Register to testify here


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:

Did you receive this Update as a forward and want to sign up for it yourself? You can do so right here. The Legislative Update will hit your mailbox every week during session (January through May).

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.

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