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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Grant

Apr 24, 2024 10:00AM ● By Donna Walker

South Carolina To Receive $124.4 Million for Solar Initiative

The South Carolina Office of Resilience (SCOR) will expand distributed solar generation and deploy meaningful benefits for low-income and disadvantaged households and communities statewide as part of $7 billion in grant awards through the Solar for All grant competition to deliver residential solar projects to over 900,000 households nationwide. 


SCOR is slated to receive $124,440,000, and will launch the Community Solar Initiative, a residential-serving community solar program for income-qualified residents (homeowners and renters), and partner with utilities to expand or enhance existing utility-run programs.


SCOR will also work with home energy efficiency and weatherization programs to coordinate activities and align efforts to engage low-income and disadvantaged households and communities.


Officials said SCOR will build on the effective solar workforce training programs that exist in South Carolina, support greater participation in these programs, and help grow the workforce needed to deploy solar in the state.


Finally, SCOR will establish a Solar Innovation Fund to expand solar opportunities in the state, potentially including resilience hubs, solar, and storage installation at affordable housing facilities.


The grant competition is funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda through the Inflation Reduction Act, which created EPA’s $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.


The 60 selections under the $7 billion Solar for All program will provide funds to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits across the country to develop long-lasting solar programs that enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from distributed residential solar, lowering energy costs for families, creating good-quality jobs in communities that have been left behind, advancing environmental justice and tackling climate change.


Federal officials said the $7 billion investment will generate over $350 million in annual savings on electric bills for overburdened households.


The program will reduce 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions cumulatively, from over four gigawatts of solar energy capacity unlocked for low-income communities over five years, the officials said.


They said solar and distributed energy resources help improve electric grid reliability and climate resilience, which is especially important in disadvantaged communities that have long been underserved.

McLeod Health Unveils Plans for New Hospital in Carolina Forest

McLeod Health, a leading health-care provider in the region, on Monday, April 22, 2024, unveiled plans for the new state-of-the-art hospital at the McLeod Health Carolina Forest Campus.


The groundbreaking event marked the beginning of construction for a $56 million, four-story, 48-bed facility that will serve the growing population of Horry County and the Grand Strand area.


Construction is expected to take two years to complete with an anticipated opening in 2026. This will be the first new hospital built in Horry County since McLeod Health Seacoast opened in 2011.


Officials said that as Horry County continues to experience rapid population growth, access to high-quality healthcare services becomes increasingly critical.


According to recent projection estimates, Horry County’s population could reach 584,500 by 2040.


The new hospital at McLeod Health Carolina Forest addresses this need by providing convenient and comprehensive care for residents, the officials said.


They said that with more than 110,000 patient visits at the Carolina Forest Campus over the past year, McLeod Health recognizes the importance of having a dedicated inpatient facility close to home.


“Where there are medical and treatment needs, we find a way,” said Donna Isgett, CEO of McLeod Health. “Together, with the people of Carolina Forest and beyond, at this site, we are pioneering a new era of modern health care that our community can rely on.”


The four-story building will house operating suites, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory services, providing a full range of medical capabilities. 


The hospital will be part of an expansion of the existing Carolina Forest campus, which already includes outpatient buildings serving primary care, specialty care, and emergency services.


“This is a visionary project that will transform healthcare in Horry County,” said Scott Montgomery, CEO of McLeod Health Carolina Forest. “These beds represent more than just numbers; they symbolize hope, compassion, and healing."


Montgomery added, "Whether it’s a teen being treated for a sports injury or a senior citizen seeking comfort, each bed will be a sanctuary for recovery.”


Officials said the Carolina Forest campus is envisioned to offer a wide range of health services that will provide the emergent, primary, specialty and inpatient care that patients need. 


They said McLeod Health is building a continuum of care, with specialty services at all three Horry County Hospitals – McLeod Seacoast, McLeod Loris, and McLeod Carolina Forest campuses.

Governor Signs Working Agriculture Lands Preservation Act Into Law

Gov. Henry McMaster was joined on April 23, 2024, by S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers, members of the General Assembly, and other state and local leaders for a ceremonial bill signing of H. 3951, the Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act.


The legislation creates the Working Farmland Protection Fund that will help landowners preserve working agricultural lands through voluntary conservation easements.


"Farmers are the backbone of our state, and as more businesses and people move here, we must find innovative ways to protect our state's most valuable farmlands,” McMaster said.


He added, “This legislation provides farmers a cost-effective option to keep and pass down their families' farms while ensuring that our state's agriculture industry remains strong and our most precious natural resources aren't lost forever to overdevelopment." 


The fund is housed at the S.C. Conservation Bank and is intended to complement agricultural projects funded by the Conservation Bank by creating a matching grant payment for qualified projects.


Grant applications must meet specific evaluation criteria, including, but not limited to, the value of the lands natural resources, the economic viability of the property in terms of current and future commercial agricultural activities, and the threat of non-agriculture-related development. In addition, the landowner must derive at least 50 percent of their income from the eligible farmland. 


The legislation also expands the membership of the existing Conservation Bank board to include the Commissioner of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, and Secretary of Transportation. 


“I’m pleased to join South Carolina leaders in giving farmers options for preserving their working lands," Weathers said. "This important new legislation helps us continue to feed people and fuel our economy while protecting our state’s agricultural past, present, and future.”


The bipartisan bill passed the House 100-7 and the Senate 46-0. 

Duke Energy to Hold Annual Shareholders Meeting Online May 9

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) will hold its annual shareholders meeting online on Thursday, May 9, at 1 p.m. ET.


Duke Energy Chair and CEO Lynn Good and President Harry Sideris will provide an overview of the company's 2023 performance and progress on its energy transition.

Shareholders will be able to participate in the meeting, vote on company and shareholder proposals, and submit questions.


Questions will be answered either during the meeting or afterward through a web posting.


Information about how shareholders can access the meeting online or by phone is available in Duke Energy's proxy statement. Google Chrome is the recommended browser for online access.


Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of America's largest energy holding companies.


The company's electric utilities serve 8.4 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 54,800 megawatts of energy capacity.


Its natural gas unit serves 1.7 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky.

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