05 Feb Repealing the Base Load Review Act
This past week on the SC House floor, and after much debate, the SC House passed a repeal of the controversial Base Load Review Act (BLRA). While the repeal of the BLRA took up most of our time, the House budget-writing committee also began meeting to write the annual budget.
The week before, we had passed the first two bills in our ratepayer protection package. Those bills reform the utility regulatory process in our state. Now, this past week’s repeal of the BLRA was the third bill in the ratepayer protection package. Currently, SCANA-owned SCE&G adds more than 18% to their customers’ power bills every month as a charge for building the now-defunct VC Summer nuclear facility addition. Our actions this past week move that rate from over 18% to 0%, so ratepayers will no longer be forced to pay for a facility that will never produce electricity or benefit them. This amounts to $37 million each month ($444 million annually) that will stay in the pockets of ratepayers.
The bill this past week to repeal the BLRA also has other key components. It instructs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to keep power rates as low as possible while the SCANA merger is evaluated. The South Carolina Constitution directs the legislature to set utility rates, and the legislature delegates that authority to the PSC. The bill also ensures that no future utility project can recover costs under the law abused by SCE&G.
Finally, House budget writers began meeting this past week to learn about the financial needs of our state. The South Carolina Constitution requires the state’s annual operating budget to originate in the House of Representatives. During this early period, state agencies submit requests to the lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee will then craft a budget for an up or down vote. I will keep you updated on this process because writing an annual budget is the most important thing we do each year and it has a direct impact on every citizen in South Carolina.
Around the District and Beyond:
I had the pleasure of meeting up with my former employee and now Prof. of Landscape Architecture, Dr. Matthew Powers, of Clemson University as well as his boss, Clemson University President, Dr. James Clements, while they were visiting the Capitol on a faculty leadership development tour.
Also in Columbia this past week was Dr. Marilyn Fore, HGTC’s President, along with several of her board members for a joint meeting of the South Carolina Technical Colleges – enjoyed sharing her thoughts and goals for our technical school programs.
Always a treat to visit with Polly Lowman to discuss current events at our favorite weekly news publications in SC House District 104!
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.