Just The Facts

With a near-daily stream of news about a legislative response to the failed V.C. Summer facility, even a veteran policy wonk could lose track. We thought it was time for a “just-the-facts” recap of key terms and major pieces of legislation to help Advocates readers follow all the energy sector news coming from the State House.

ORS is a state agency responsible for inspecting and auditing public utilities and is intended to represent the public interest in hearings before the Public Service Commission. Public interest, in this case, is balanced among three components:

  1. Energy consumers
  2. The financial integrity of public utilities
  3. The economic development prospects of the state

Public Service Commission (PSC)

A seven-person board charged with regulating rates and services of public utilities that is selected by the General Assembly.

Base Load

The minimum amount of electric power delivered or required over a given period of time at a steady rate.

Base Load Review Act (BLRA)

Enacted in 2007, the BLRA allows a utility that is building a new power plant which adds to the base load generation capacity in the state to add a surcharge to customers’ bills to finance construction of the new facility. Surcharge increases must receive the blessing of the ORS and be approved by the PSC.

H.4375: Utility Plants, Projects and Rates

This legislation would repeal the BLRA moving forward. It would also temporarily stop SCANA from collecting the $27 monthly customer surcharge financing the failed project by establishing an experimental rate. This legislation would need PSC approval and would likely face legal challenges.

Current Status: This bill now resides in Senate Judiciary Committee

H.4377: Public Service Commission Composition

This bill would relieve current PSC members of their duties. It would also put more stringent requirements for future members of the PSC and give the legislature more oversight of the PSC.

Current Status: This bill now resides in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

H.4378: Utility Oversight Commission

This legislation would end the Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC), a group of legislators and residents that screen PSC candidates. PURC’s role would be filled by a new Utility Oversight Committee. The new committee would have more Gubernatorial appointees and strict restrictions on members receiving donations from utilities.

Current Status: This bill now resides in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

H.4379: Utilities Consumer Advocate

Creates a utility consumer advocate in the Office of Regulatory Staff. The legislation also strengthens ORS by giving them the ability to subpoena documents from utilities.

Current Status: This bill now resides in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee

S.954: Public Service Commission Ruling Delay

This joint resolution will allow the PSC to delay ruling on the proposed merger between SCANA and Dominion Energy until December. This gives the legislature, ORS and the Governor time to have outside professionals assess all implications and potential issues with the proposed merger.

Current Status: This bill now resides in House Judiciary

While there are other energy sector related bills active in both chambers, these are the only ones that have seen movement up to this point.

Your Charleston Metro Chamber Advocacy team continues to actively monitor all energy policy related developments and will keep you up to date.

Ian Scott,
SVP Government Relations

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