Rebecca Haynes Rebecca Haynes
January 16, 2017

We’re off to a productive start at the State House this week. First up, we have subcommittee hearings in the Senate on Solar Property Tax and the Conservation Bank. Next, we’ll have a hearing in the House Ag committee on dam safety reform.

Solar Market Growth Landmark clean energy legislation passed in 2014 (Act 236) and has made South Carolina one of the fastest growing solar markets in the nation. Utilities now have additional flexibility to add renewable resources to their generation mixes, and citizens and businesses have enhanced access to rooftop solar technologies that can drastically reduce monthly energy bills while helping to protect the natural resources of South Carolina. In order to maintain expansion of renewables in South Carolina, the Conservation Coalition supports adoption of clear guidance for reasonable property tax treatment of renewable energy equipment installed in our state.

S.44 establishes a clear and consistent path for property tax treatment of solar panel installations, providing an 80% reduction of Fair Market Value for purposes of property tax assessment. In addition, it exempts panels owned by homeowners from real property tax, clarifying what is already the practice.

Reauthorization of the Conservation Bank  The Conservation Bank was created 14 years ago to safeguard our drinking water, preserve our history and culture, and protect our precious natural resources. It’s the only statewide source of public funding available for willing landowners and their land trust partners to voluntarily conserve important SC lands, and it will shut down if not reauthorized by June of 2018.

S.7 reauthorizes the Conservation Bank for 10 years and maintains reduced funding for the Bank even in lean budget years (previously, the Bank was cut to $0 in lean budget years).

  • Meeting notice: The Environmental Subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will meet on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. in room 209 of the Gressette Building. We will be there in SUPPORT of S.7 (Sen. Campsen).  This meeting has been postponed. We will update you when the meeting is rescheduled. 

Dam Safety Reform In October of 2015, rain pummeled South Carolina and over 51 dams across the state burst under the pressure of swollen rivers and creeks. Then, a year later, Hurricane Matthew gave our dams and infrastructure another beating, bringing the total to 70 failed dams. Homes were destroyed. Infrastructure was damaged. Lives were lost. We must protect citizens from failing dams. We support DHEC’s efforts to update our outdated dam safety law and support the agency’s funding request to support the program. Moving forward, we hope that South Carolina can better prepare, secure, and restore our infrastructure to weather the worst storms and protect the South Carolina we love.

H.3218 ensures that DHEC is aware of any transfer of ownership of dams, that dam owners regularly update their contact information with DHEC, provide information on activity related to their dam, and provide the already required emergency action plan to DHEC, downstream homeowners, and emergency access professionals.

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We expect all of these bills to move forward and hope you’ll join us in encouraging your Senator or Representative to support these bills.

We also hope you’ll join us this Tuesday evening, January 17th, for CVSC’s Annual Legislative Kick-off Party from 5:30-8pm at the Vista Room behind Blue Marlin (please send me your RSVP at rebecca@cvsc.org)

Also, please note that the SC Conservation Coalition’s Senate “Conversations with Conservationists” Briefing hosted by Senators Courson and McElveen has been moved to February 1, 2017 at 10 am in 105 Gressette on the State House Grounds.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

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