Legislative Updates 2024: March 25 - 29

April 3rd, 2024


  • Trails Bill (H.3121) heads to the Governor's desk!
  • House Energy Bill (H.5118) passes House with little debate, a look at amendments
  • Register now: Attend a hearing near you on the Duke Energy Carolinas proposed 20% rate hike

Happy Pollen Season!

I hope everyone is well and finding time to get outside, despite the allergen abundance. This year’s “crossover” date on April 10th is approaching fast, and lawmakers are up against the clock to advance bills out of their originating chambers before that deadline. The House will not meet this week and the Senate will focus on budget subcommittees, likely queuing up for a frenzy next week.

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

news from the statehouse

Trails Bill update

After last week’s celebration of the Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121) passing the Senate, we were delighted to see the House concur with the Senate amendment and enroll this bill for ratification! Thanks again to Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde for championing this bill and to everyone who contacted their lawmakers. 

House Energy Bill (H.5118) passes House with little debate

As expected, the House passed H.5118 — now called the SC Energy Security Act — last week. What was not expected was the lack of substantial debate on the bill’s merits, risks, and amendments. Of the 19 amendments proposed on the floor, six were adopted, including the committee report we outlined last week. The new amendments adopted on the House floor include:

  1. Allowing the Department of Commerce to resell natural gas pipeline capacity rights, attained by the “anchor subscriber” status authorized by the bill, if approved by the Joint Bond Review Committee.
  2. Requiring the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) to monitor construction costs and timelines of the Canadys Plant, and Duke’s Bad Creek project, and new natural gas plants. ORS will have to provide monthly updates to the PSC and General Assembly, and the PSC may schedule hearings to address ORS concerns.
  3. A prohibition on utilities offering reduced electric rates to data centers.
  4. Clarifying the definition of biomass, already designated as a renewable resource in current law, to include the definition included in current SC tax code: wood, wood waste, agricultural or animal waste, sewage, and landfill gas.
  5. Requiring the PSC to promulgate regulations to establish safety, maintenance, and inspection standards for public utilities and assess fines for violations.

These amendments don’t change the bill significantly, but we expect to see even more changes as the bill goes through the Senate. Now would be a great time to contact your Senator. Click here for more information about the bill and potential talking points.

connecting the dots

Energy bills like H.5118 have serious implications for how and where we use land and water to power our homes and businesses, and how much we ask residents to pay for investments.

Most, if not all, of the decisions to invest in new energy infrastructure over 15 years are proposed by utility Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) submitted every three years to the SC Public Service Commission — a quasi-judicial body tasked with regulating the state’s public utilities.

IRPs set the course for future investments, the costs for which are then recovered through rate hikes and fuel cost dockets (i.e., higher monthly energy bills) approved by the PSC. The 20% rate hike proposed by Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC), for example, is directly connected to decisions that were made during previous IRPs.

Read below for more information on the upcoming hearings and how to voice your opinion about the proposed rate increase.

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

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).

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