Let me set the scene for a big showdown that’s about to take place at the Statehouse…
There are two bills…
One bill was practically written by the utility monopolies. Not surprisingly, this bill would reward them for their role in the disastrous V.C. Summer debacle. Also, not surprisingly, this bill was introduced and rushed through subcommittee almost overnight by House members who’ve received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from utility monopolies.
The other bill would promote the growth of solar energy in South Carolina. This bill rewards consumers by treating them fairly and ensuring that our state’s solar energy market will continue to produce good-paying jobs and affordable energy for our families. Not surprisingly, this bill has been challenged at every step.
In looking at these two bills — which could soon square off on the floor of the State House — it’s hard not see this as another David v. Goliath-type battle. And I’d be lying to you if I said it won’t be.
However, Goliath is not wearing his helmet; it’s not business as usual in the House. Many, if not most of our elected leaders, are pushing for reform… and David will have his shot.
Little ol’ David with his little ol’ slingshot fighting for the cause of good against a much bigger and stronger adversary.
You know the story… and you know the ending…
Hand me the slingshot…
BUDGET WEEK BEGINS
• The House is taking up the budget this week. We’ll be in the lobby supporting our environmental agencies and watching out for bad provisos. After the budget, we’ll have Conservation Lobby Day on March 20th – have you registered yet?
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LAST WEEK
• Rollback of Residential Solar — Last week, Rep. Bill Sandifer introduced H.5045, a bill that would essentially eliminate the solar energy free market established in 2014. This awful bill was fast-tracked through subcommittee and committee on Tuesday and is now headed to the House floor. With little debate and discussion on the job-killing implications of this bill, as well as the additional cost that would be passed on to energy ratepayers, this is reminiscent of the utility-based way of legislating that produced the V.C. Summer debacle. The bill is scheduled to come to the House floor on March 20, which also happens to be the same day as our Conservation Coalition Lobby Day.
• Solar Energy Improvements — This week, we moved forward a bill (H.4421) that will lift caps on net-metering for residential solar panel production and allow the solar market to continue to grow. This pro-solar bill made it out of the House Judiciary Committee and will also be on the floor of the House on March 20. Go here to keep up the pressure on House members and tell them that you want the ability to choose more solar, grow solar jobs, and be part of a clean energy future for SC.
• Energy Efficiency — H.4425, the House bill that would result in electric utility investment in cost-effective energy efficiency efforts was sent back to subcommittee from the full House Judiciary Committee. For a bill that would save energy and reduce individual electric bills, this development is a curious step in the wrong direction. Please, tell your Representative that you believe we should invest in cost-effective ways to save energy and to support H.4425.
• Landfill Clean-up & Emergency Fund — H.4644 gives DHEC the ability to respond immediately to landfill emergencies and requires construction and demolition recyclers to quickly process the debris they collect. After the landfill fire in Chester last year, a broad coalition of folks got together to prevent future crises, crafting this bill in the process. Rep. Chandra Dillard guided this good bill through the House, passing with a 98-1 vote.
• Litter — H.4458 gives greater discretion to Law Enforcement for litter penalties, distinguishing between illegal dumping and smaller indiscretions. It has passed the House and moved out of Senate Judiciary subcommittee last week. It is headed to the full Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 13.
• Anti-Home Rule (Plastic Bags) — H.3529 was up before subcommittee last week, with standing room only. Many groups gave strong testimony against this bill, highlighting that the opposition to the bill is as much about reducing plastic pollution as it is about ensuring communities have the ability to find local solutions to local problems. Ultimately, the subcommittee adjourned and scheduled another subcommittee hearing for the bill on March 15.
THE WEEK AHEAD
• Reauthorization of the Conservation Bank — The House bill that permanently reauthorizes the Conservation Bank, H.4727, passed out of subcommittee and will be before the full Senate Finance Committee this Tuesday. The most important elements of this bill are a permanent reauthorization, maintaining the Bank’s independence and competitive grants process, and continuing the ability of the Bank to support cost-effective conservation easements. A number of other changes from both the House and Senate improve transparency and inter-agency coordination related to conservation efforts. Please contact your Senator TODAY and ask them to support the reauthorization of the Conservation Bank. Your voice matters in this discussion.
• Anti-Home Rule (Plastic Bags) — As mentioned above, H.3529 is back before the Senate LCI subcommittee on Thursday, March 15th at 9am in room 307 of the Gressette Building. We will continue to fight for our local communities’ right to find local solutions to local plastic pollution problems. Join us in person or by taking action today to help us push back on this misguided bill.
That’s it for now. Thanks for staying engaged!