SCE&G Wants 6.6% Rate Hike
Electricity bills for Lowcountry residents to increase next year if approved this fall
South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. plans to increase overall base electric rates 6.61 percent this fall, under a plan submitted for approval to the S.C. Public Service Commission.
SCE&G, headquartered in Cayce, filed the application for the increase Friday.
The base rate hike is, according to President of Retail Operations Keller Kissam, driven mostly by increased costs associated with improving reliability and ensuring environmental regulation compliance.
Since January 2010, when the company last filed for a base rate increase, SCE&G has spent almost $300 million on upgrades and improvements to its electric transmission and distribution system to comply with federal law and to provide safe, reliable service to customers, said Kissam.
Kissam added that the company has also spent $30 million on environmental upgrades and projects at its various power plants, and that SCE&G property taxes have increased by $16 million per year.
The increased rates for Lowcountry residents would be effective January 2013, when the bill of an SCE&G customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity will rise $6.67 per month, or about $80 a year.
If the PSC approves the fuel cost cuts and the base rate increases as filed, residential customers will see a 4.85 percent rate increase; small commercial customers a 1.36 percent rate increase; medium commercial customers a 2.78 percent rate increase and large commercial or industrial customers will experience a 3.69 percent rate increase.
Kissam said the company recognizes its customers face challenging economic times and to reduce the impact of the increase, SCE&G also plans to reduce fuel cost of its electric rates.
Kissam added the fuel cost decreases are an option because of reduced fuel costs for power plants. State law prohibits companies like SCE&G from making a profit on the cost of fuel needed to generate electricity, according to published reports.
SCE&G provides electricity to about 668,000 customers in South Carolina and provides natural gas to about 319,000 residents throughout the state. The rate increases should provide an additional $151 million in revenue, said SCE&G.
Eric Boomhower, spokesman for the SCANA Corporation, said that SCE&G will have to make a case for its proposed rate increases at a public hearing come fall. PSC will then decide whether the increases will go into effect next year.