Another regulatory victory for the SC Small Business Chamber

The South Carolina Public Service Commission has approved the settlement reached between the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, Duke Energy, SC Office of Regulatory Staff and other intervenors in Duke’s recent rate hike request.

This is another big victory for the work of the SC Small Business Chamber. Our track record of successfully fighting utility rate hike requests in our state has been exceptional.  In this case we negotiated a reduction of over 75 percent from Duke’s originally proposed 14 percent electric rate hike on small businesses.

Duke’s small business customers will now see a 2.29 percent increase the first year and 1.13 percent the second year for an overall increase of only 3.42 percent.

Below is a story form GSA Business.

GSA Business
September 12, 2013

Regulators approve Duke’s rate hike

Staff Report

Duke Energy’s $118.6 million rate increase approved by the South Carolina Public Service Commission will raise rates by 3.42% over two years for small businesses, down from the 14% first proposed by the utility.

Overall, the PSC approved an average 6.42% increase for businesses, 7.34% for industrial customers and 10.16% for residential customers.

Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, has described the negotiated agreement as a “very good result for small businesses in the Dukeservice area.”

Overall, the PSC-approved settlement that increases electricity rates for about 540,000 households and businesses in South Carolina rate case reduces Duke’s original $220 million rate request by almost half. The approved agreement also reduces Duke’s proposed 11.25% return on common equity — the maximum profit margin — to 10.2%.

The utility’s request for its third increase in three years prompted howls of opposition at a series of public hearings. About 1,700 people registered with the PSC as opponents.

Before the PSC’s July 31 hearings on the rate request, the Charlotte, N.C.-based utility reached a settlement agreement with the state’s utility watchdog agency, the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff, and a lineup of intervenors that included the small business chamber’s leader.

Overall, instead of an average increase of 15.1% that was first proposed to generate another $220 million annually, starting Wednesday customers will pay an average of 5.53% the first year and 2.63% more starting in September 2014.

In addition to the rate increase, the PSC directed Duke Energy to use $3.5 million at shareholder expense to provide $2.5 million for public-assistance programs, manufacturing competitiveness grants, economic development and/or education-workforce training programs. Another $1 million will be allocated by the utility through the Office of Regulatory Staff to support senior outreach and public education initiatives.

Duke Energy said the increase is needed to pay for facility upgrades. Ryan Mosier, a spokesman for the utility, has said the agreement “achieves a balance between the concerns for our customers and the need to recover the investments we’ve made in the system.

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