Lexington County Chronicle
September 16, 2015
by Jerry Bellune
A business leader sees a 50% increase in utility rates within five years.
By the time S.C. Electric & Gas opens two new nuclear plants, rates will be up 31% just for construction financing, S.C. Small Business Chamber President Frank Knapp told Lexington County lawmakers.
“Add to that the regular rate hikes and consumers may be paying SCE&G bills 50% higher by 2020 than they were just 12 years earlier,” he said at the delegation’s meeting at Midlands Tech’s Airport campus.
“Since 2008, SCE&G rates have increased by about 31%,” he said.
“More than half of that has been due to the Base Load Review Act passed in 2007 which allows the company to have annual rate hikes to pay for the financing of construction.”
Knapp said it’s time to reassess state utility law to see if it serves the public’s interest and not just SCE&G’s stockholders.
The Public Service Commission has the authority to reject SCE&G’s requests for cost overruns under a law which specifically calls for “protecting customers of investor-owned electrical utilities from responsibility for imprudent financial obligations or costs.”
However no cost overruns, no costs due to delay, no additional costs due to inadequate contract penalties have been ruled as “imprudent financial obligations or costs” by the Public Service Commission.
“These costs plus a hefty profit on top are being passed on to the ratepayer instead of the SCE&G shareholder who can demand accountability.”
The General Assembly should define the terms “prudent” and “imprudent” in the act to better benefit the consumer, he said.