THE NEW YEAR brings a new session of the S.C. General Assembly and, with it, a chance to thank our local legislators for their support of Horry Electric Cooperative.
The state senators and representatives shown in the local pages of the January 2014 edition of South Carolina Living magazine deserve your thanks. They help HEC save our members money and continue to provide the most reliable service possible.
As the legislative liaison for HEC, I work with my peers from other independent, locally owned electric distribution co-ops around the state. We coordinate with the government relations team at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc., our statewide association, to look out for the more than 1.5 million South Carolina citizens who rely on their local co-ops for dependable, affordable electric power.
Legislative advocacy is crucial to your co-op’s continued success. Decisions by lawmakers in Columbia and in Washington, D.C., have major ramifications for your monthly bill. That’s why your cooperative keeps a close eye on the legislative, regulatory and legal issues of the entire utility industry.
Our local legislative delegation continues to stand tall for HEC members. For instance, in recent years the General Assembly has passed legislation aimed at curbing the theft of copper, which has cost citizens, insurance companies, churches and utilities a great deal of money. In 2013, legislators, with input from co-ops and other utilities, went back and fine-tuned a law passed in 2012. We now have one of the toughest laws in the United States on the theft
In 2013 the Legislature also passed tougher laws regarding theft of utility service, particularly for those who steal power as part of larger criminal enterprises including operators of “grow houses,” where crooks circumvent electric metering to avoid paying for power used to grow marijuana indoors. Now these criminals face serious jail time if they try to stick other co-op members with the cost of their power.
Co-ops have earned a reputation as the Legislature’s “go to” advisors on energy-related matters by demonstrating our expertise in electricity, economic development and community empowerment. In the last year, we provided expert advice on legislation to update state energy-efficiency building codes, which will help new homeowners save energy and money. Today, we are doing the same to make sure our state policies in distributed generation like solar are reasonable and consumer friendly. We appreciate our legislators’ attentiveness to our members’ needs.
Legislators know co-ops well. They know that HEC and other locally owned and operated electric cooperatives have represented grassroots organizing at its finest for almost 75 years. Thanks again to our delegation and to our greatest advocates—you, our consumer-members.