Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Refuses to Allow Consumer Groups to Testify

For Immediate Release
April 4, 2024

Public Hearing Reserved for Energy Providers Only

Below is a statement of Frank Knapp Jr., president, CEO and co-founder of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, regarding Senate Judiciary Subcommittee public hearing today on House Bill 5118, the South Carolina Energy Security Act, which has been passed by the House.


Today the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held a 105-minute public hearing on an energy bill that, among other energy matters, would reform the utility regulatory process and would essentially put the SC Public Service Commission and regulatory process under the control of the utilities.

All 105 minutes of testimony came from a solar energy provider and representatives of the energy utilities.  The committee didn’t have 5 minutes to hear from organizations representing consumers even though they had officially asked to speak.

Yes, these organizations can submit written testimony but that doesn’t focus the attention of the legislature and media on how anti-consumer H.5118 is.

This is exactly what the utilities want and the subcommittee played right along.  The conversation is only to be about energy needs and not the anti-consumer regulatory reform in the bill.

The subcommittee voted out H.5118 without amendments to the full Judiciary Committee where amendments will be entertained, not the typical process of amendments being addressed at the subcommittee level also.

The utilities wanted to move this bill fast without discussing its regulatory reforms, and the subcommittee complied.

Below is the short testimony I would have provided had we been given the same respect for speaking as was given to the utilities and a solar energy developer.


Frank Knapp


Statement of Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce, prepared to be given orally at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee public hearing on H.5118 on April 4, 2024.


House Bill 5118 is anti-consumer regulatory reform masquerading as solving an energy security problem.

The purpose of the bill, according to the utilities and their legislative supporters, is for the legislature to authorize the building of new generation.  Many legislators have succumbed to that message.

However, whether a gas plant is built or not, the long-term negative impact of H.5118 will be putting the Public Service Commission and the regulatory process under the control of the private utilities.

The bill would essentially fire all the current PSC commissioners and replace those 7 with only three commissioners while incentivizing experienced utility-friendly candidates for those positions, that the legislature will surely approve.  Diversity will be gone.

And the bill also fires the Consumer Advocate from representing consumers in the regulatory process.

And finally, the bill again gives the Office of Regulatory Staff responsibility for being concerned about the financial health of the utilities, reversing a change made after the failed nuclear project.  The result can only benefit the utilities.

If H.5118 passes as is, consumers in the future will pay higher energy rates, much higher than they would have if H.5118 had not passed.

Since 2002, I and the South Carolina Small Business Chamber have been representing the interests of the small businesses in 14 PSC cases, 10 of those have been rate cases.

The current regulatory process has enabled us to successfully cut proposed rate hikes on small businesses by up to 50% or more, because the independent PSC commissioners listened to the facts and understood that they should be concerned about consumers as well as utilities.

All of that goes out the window with H.5118.  Our ability to successfully represent small business ratepayers in the PSC proceedings will be greatly reduced.

If H.5118 passes as is, small business will pay the price in higher power rates than they otherwise would have.

Small business owners will no longer be a concern in the regulatory process.

What is particularly alarming is the overwhelming vote in the House in favor of this anti-consumer bill.

These legislators only saw the shiny object of power generation in this bill and not that the bill is not in their best financial interest and South Carolinians just like them.

If energy security was really what H.5118 was about, it could have greenlighted the gas plant and left all the bad regulatory reform out.  We have no problem with allowing Dominion and Santee Cooper to jointly build new generation.  In fact, Duke Energy should be included in such an authorization.

But the utilities demanded everything that is in H.5118.

And that reveals their real purpose of pushing the bill and their misdirection messaging.

We look forward to seeing Senator Tom Davis’ amendments to H.5118, amendments that we hope will delete all the bad, anti-consumer parts of the bill.



Frank Knapp


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