Date: September 6, 2016
Contact: Frank Knapp Jr., firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-252-5733;
Amy Armstrong, South Carolina Environmental Law Project, email@example.com. 843-527-0078
Columbia, SC (September 6, 2016) – Today the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) filed an amicus brief with the S.C. Supreme Court in support of a petition by citizen groups. The case concerns the S.C. Public Service Commission’s (PSC) 2014 approval of Duke Energy’s proposed $650 million natural gas power plant without considering lower cost modifications to the plant’s operation that possibly could save money for ratepayers and reduce environmental impact.
The SCSBCC agrees with S.C. Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (Petitioners) that a Court of Appeals decision limits the ability of the PSC to protect consumers and the environment. The state’s Utility Facility Siting and Environmental Protection Act (the Act) requires the PSC to make six determinations before certifying a major electrical generating facility.
Petitioners and SCSBCC maintain that the PSC only addressed one determination thus not complying with the law. Specifically, the PSC “failed to consider a solar energy component that was proposed to lower the Lee Gas Plant’s impact and costs to ratepayers.” In addition, the PSC improperly interpreted the Act to limit its ability to require more than minor modifications to a power plant.
“Our brief does not oppose the plant nor is it an argument that Duke using the solar option would definitely save consumers money,” said Frank Knapp Jr., SCSBCC president and CEO. “But the Act clearly charges the PSC with the responsibility to examine what modifications, minor or major, could be made to save consumers money as well as reduce environmental impact.”
“We’re asking the Supreme Court to review the PSC’s compliance with and statutory interpretation of the Act,” Knapp continued. “This ruling will determine if the PSC will just be a rubber stamp for future costly power plant proposals or be a true champion for the consumer.”