G. Thomas Upshaw | President & CEO
A 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 Palmetto Electric Cooperative.
They help Palmetto Electric save our members money and continue to provide the most reliable service possible.
Our legislative liaisons, Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations Jimmy Baker and Manager, Community Affairs & Economic Development Jan Baxter, work with their peers from other independent, locally owned electric distribution co-ops around the state. They look out for the more than 1.5 million South Carolina citizens who rely on their co-ops for dependable, affordable electric power.
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. Co-ops keep a close eye on the legislative, regulatory and legal issues of the entire utility industry.
Our local legislative delegation continues to stand tall for Palmetto Electric members. 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, fine-tuned a law passed in 2012. We now have one of the toughest laws in the United States for copper 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.
Co-ops have earned a reputation as the Legislature’s “go-to” advisors on energy—related matters. In the last year, we provided expert advice on legislation to update state energy-efficiency building codes, which will save homeowners energy and money. Today, we’re 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 Palmetto Electric 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.