In September, South Carolina’s General Assembly reconvened for a special session to make up for time lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. After all the uncertainty this year, we were cautious about what the legislature could accomplish in this compressed timeframe, but we are thrilled to report on some key energy and resilience wins that will benefit South Carolina’s birds and people.
The SC General Assembly elected four new commissioners to serve on the 7-person SC Public Service Commission, or PSC. As one of the state’s most powerful regulatory bodies, The PSC has control over numerous decisions with the potential to impact our daily lives—from how much we pay for electricity and what sources that electricity comes from, to where a utility can locate infrastructure and whether they can shut off power during a pandemic. They also help determine the availability of options like local community solar and energy efficiency programs, and ultimately, whether our state maintains a viable—and thriving—solar market.
It was an important decision, to say the least, and thanks to the voices of Audubon advocates and partner organizations, we’re confident that the General Assembly chose well- qualified and highly- disciplined commissioners who will help put South Carolina on its way to a just and affordable clean-energy future.
S. 259 – The Disaster Relief and Resilience Act
After passing the SC House and Senate with overwhelming support, we are happy to share that the Disaster Relief and Resilience Act was just signed into law by Governor McMaster.
This important bill, which Audubon has long supported and helped get over the finish line, does the following:
- Creates a new state resilience office, led by a state resilience officer;
- Sets requirements for statewide resilience planning;
- Creates a new revolving loan program that will help finance the voluntary buy out of repetitively flooded properties and restore those properties to a natural state; and
- Requires local governments to incorporate resilience into their comprehensive plans.
While there is still much work to be done to accomplish the bill’s objectives, its passage is a significant step toward protecting South Carolina's birds, people and critical habitat from increasingly severe weather and flood events.
H. 4940 - Electricity Market Reform Measures Study Committee
The General Assembly also passed legislation creating an electricity market reform study committee. Reforming our electricity markets is necessary to allow clean energy to compete – and we know it can – while giving ratepayers more energy choices and a better deal. We look forward to participating in this process as the study committee forms and begins to meet in the coming months.
Audubon South Carolina is grateful to you for your support on these important achievements, and we look forward to working with our advocates, partners and state leaders to implement these acts. Together, we can advance commonsense solutions to protect birds, their habitat, and people from the impacts of climate change—the number one threat to birds.
Stay tuned for more updates as we gear up for the next legislative session, which will be quickly upon us on January 12, 2021!