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South Carolina bill would assess energy needs, urge expedited federal action

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(The Center Square) — The South Carolina House passed a pair of measures to assess the state’s energy needs and urge federal policymakers to expedite modern energy infrastructure deployment.

H. 5118, the South Carolina Energy Security Act, changes the Public Service Commission from seven members to three and amends its oversight responsibilities. It also requires the Office of Regulatory Staff to assess the state’s electrical grid and transmission system needs, determine its ability to address current and future energy needs and develop a ten-year action plan.

H. 5120 calls on Congress “to work in good faith to enact legislation that reforms federal permitting and environmental review processes to promote economic and environmental stewardship by expediting the deployment of modern energy infrastructure.”

In a statement, Americans for Prosperity-South Carolina State Director Candace Carroll lauded House Speaker Murrell Smith Jr., R-Sumter, and the state House for taking “steps to reform our state’s permitting process and ensure families in South Carolina have access to safe, reliable, and affordable electricity.”

“Bidenomics has already created an economy that is challenging to keep up with and wreaked havoc on South Carolinians’ wallets, making [this] legislation even more impactful for ratepayers across the state,” Carroll added.

Earlier this week, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan called on lawmakers to pass the measure.

“Ensuring the future of South Carolina’s energy generation capacity is one of the most important things the General Assembly can do this legislative session to maintain our state’s unprecedented economic growth,” Morgan said in a statement.

However, when the measure was introduced last month, the Southern Environmental Law Center criticized the bill, saying it would allow Dominion Energy and Santee Cooper to build a gas plant on the Edisto River.

“This bill is nothing more than a utility wishlist that will leave ratepayers paying up for dirty, expensive, and unreliable fossil fuel projects while neighboring states meet the clean energy needs of their customers, leaving South Carolina in the dust,” SELC Senior Attorney Kate Mixson said in a statement. “…The legislature should be requiring utilities to replace dirty, unreliable coal with diverse, low risk energy that attracts business and reduces price risk to ratepayers, not handing over the keys to utilities.”

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