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South Carolina Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity (8-SC-c)

In South Carolina, a developer may need a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity (Certificate) from the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) prior to constructing and/or operating a “major utility facility” which includes “any transmission line with a designed voltage of 125 kV or more or…a generating station of more than 75 MW.” S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-20; S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-304. A developer does not need to obtain a Certificate for the construction of the following:
  • Electric distribution lines and associated facilities; and
  • Electric transmission lines and associated facilities leased to and operated by Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility in South Carolina.

S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-20.

The PSC regulates construction of major utility facilities pursuant to South Carolina – S.C. Code Ann. §§ 58-33 et seq., Utility Facility Siting and Environmental Protection; South Carolina – S.C. Code Ann Reg. 103-300 et seq., Electric Systems; South Carolina – S.C. Code Ann Reg. 103-800 et seq., Practice and Procedure.


Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity Process

8-SC-c.1 – Provide Public Notice

Before submitting a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity Application (Application), the developer must provide public notice of the Application to persons residing in impacted municipalities by publishing a summary of the Application and the date the Application is to be filed in newspapers of general circulation. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-120.

8-SC-c.2 – Provide Copies of the Application

Prior to filing an Application, the developer must also provide a copy of the Application to the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), chief executive office of each municipality, and head of each state and local government agency charged with the duty of protecting the environment or of planning land use, in the area in the county in which any portion of the facility is to be located. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-120.

8-SC-c.3 – Application for Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Convenience and Necessity

The developer must submit a complete Application for Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (Application) to the PSC. A complete Application must include the following:

  • Legal name of the developer, stating whether the developer is a partnership, corporation, association, establishment, governmental subdivision, or other public or private organization;
  • Contact information of the person responsible for correspondence or communications associated with the Application;
  • A description of the location and of the major utility facility to be built;
  • A summary of any studies made by or for the developer regarding the environmental impact of the facility;
  • A statement explaining the need for the facility; and
  • Any other information the developer considers relevant or required by the PSC.

S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-823; S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-120. All Applications must be accompanied by:

  • Proof of service of a copy of the application on the ORS, chief executive office of each municipality, and head of each applicable state and local government environmental agency; and
  • Proof of public notice.

S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-120.

8-SC-c.4 to 8-SC-c.5 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The PSC must review the Application materials for technical and administrative completeness.

8-SC-c.6 – Provide Notice of Public Hearing

The PSC must provide notice of the public hearing. Sufficient notice must be published and contain the following information:

  • A statement of the date, time, and place of the public hearing; and
  • A reference to the legal authority under which the proceeding was instituted.

S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-804.

8-SC-c.7 – Intervene as a Party (Optional)

Any person may petition the PSC to intervene as a party to the proceeding within 30 days of the date the Application was filed and obtain party status in the proceeding S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-140.

8-SC-c.8 – Participate in Proceeding as a Party

The following may participate in the proceeding considering the Application as a party:

S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-140; S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-804. A party to the proceeding is entitled receive all documentary materials, pleadings, orders or other depositions of matters relevant to the proceeding. S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-804. Parties have a right to participate or be represented in all hearings, serve other parties with written interrogatories, present oral testimony, and take testimony from witnesses. S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-805; S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-833; S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-834. Parties to the proceeding also have the right to petition for rehearing at the conclusion of the proceeding. S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-804.

8-SC-c.9 – Hold Pre-hearing Conference (Optional)

The PSC may hold a pre-hearing conference with parties to the proceeding for the purposes of:

  • Simplifying issues;
  • Clarifying pleadings;
  • Clarifying facts;
  • Consolidating witnesses;
  • Discussing hearing procedure;
  • Distributing written testimony and exhibits to the parties; and
  • Discussing any other issues, the PSC finds relevant.

S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-839.

8-SC-c.10 – Hold Public Hearing

The PSC must hold a public hearing considering the Application within 90 days of receiving the Application. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-130.

8-SC-c.11 to 8-SC-c.12 – Make Limited Appearance (Optional)

Any person may make a limited appearance in the proceeding within 60 days after the Application is filed. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-140. A person making a limited appearance does not have party statutes, may not present oral testimony, present an argument, or cross-examine witnesses. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-140. A person making a limited appearance may “protest” or file written comment on the Application stating objections “to part or all of the subject matter of the proceeding.” S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-827.

8-SC-c.13 – Record of Proceeding

The PSC must make a record of the hearing and all testimony taken. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-150.

8-SC-c.14 – Determine Conditions of the Certificate

The state agencies participating in the proceeding may determine Certificate conditions for the proposed major utility facility. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160.

8-SC-c.15 to 8-SC-c.17 – Review Application for Approval

The PSC reviews the Application for approval and must render a decision either granting or denying the Application. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160. In determining whether to grant or deny the Application, the PSC considers the following:

  • The basis of the need for the facility;
  • The nature of the probable environmental impact;
  • Whether the impact of the facility upon the environment is justified, considering the state of available technology and the nature and economics of the various alternatives and other pertinent considerations;
  • Whether the facilities will serve the interests of system economy and reliability;
  • Whether there is reasonable assurance that the proposed facility will conform to applicable State and local laws and regulations, including any allowable variance, excluding any local law or regulation the PSC finds to be unreasonably restrictive; and
  • Whether the public convenience and necessity require the construction of the facility.

S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160. The PSC must provide parties with copies of the decision on the Application. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160.

8-SC-c.18 – Opinion on the Decision

Upon rendering a decision on the Application, the PSC must issue an opinion stating the reasons for its decision on the Application. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-170. If the PSC determines that local rules or regulations are unreasonably restrictive, the PSC must also state its reasoning for this determination in the opinion on the Application. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-170. The PSC must provide parties with copies of the decision on the Application. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160.

8-SC-c.19 to 8-SC-c.20 – Does the PSC Approve the Application?

If the PSC approves the Application, the PSC may impose conditions and/or modifications of the construction, operation, or maintenance of the major utility facility as the PSC deems appropriate. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160. The PSC may modify the location of the proposed utility facility and condition the Certificate upon the developer modifying the project’s location. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160. When the PSC grants the developer the Application, any conditions determined by the applicable state agencies become part of the Certificate. S.C. Code Ann. § 58-33-160.

8-SC-c.21 – Petition for Rehearing or Reconsideration (Optional)

Any party to the proceeding may petition the PSC for rehearing or reconsideration within 20 days of receiving the PSC decision on the Application. S.C. Code Ann. Reg. 103-854.


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