Date: August 7, 2018
From: South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce
Subject: Dominion’s Bad Deal and Undue Influence on PSC
Contact: Frank Knapp, President/CEO, 803-252-5733 (w), 803-600-6874 (c),
Columbia, SC—The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) and the Coastal Conservation League (CCL) today sounded the alarm about the inappropriateness of the SC Public Service Commission (PSC) holding one hearing later this year to decide both a permanent electricity rate cut for SCE&G customers and if Dominion Energy should be allowed to purchase SCANA/SCE&G.
The PSC has scheduled a November 1 hearing to address both issues.
The SCSBCC and CCL have called for the PSC to first hold a hearing on the SCE&G rate reduction and later hold a hearing on the Dominion acquisition of SCANA/SCE&G.
“Let’s not put the cart before the horse,” said Eddie Moore, Energy & Climate Program Director for the CCL. “Ratepayers deserve a clear accounting of past nuclear mismanagement costs first before moving on to the question of whether a merger is the best idea.”
The SCSBCC labeled the highly touted Dominion offer to SCE&G customers for what it is—a bad deal for ratepayers and an effort to influence the PSC decision on rolling back SCE&G rates.
“Dominion clearly has spent millions in advertising trying to influence the upcoming decision of the Public Service Commission on a permanent rollback of SCE&G electricity rates,” said Frank Knapp Jr., President and CEO of the SCSBCC. “To do that Dominion has put forth what on the surface looks like a ‘generous’ offer to ratepayers should the utility be approved to purchase SCANA/SCE&G. Until now, that offer has not been analyzed.”
Knapp pointed out numerous details of the Dominion offer that make it a bad deal for ratepayers:
- Dominion doesn’t say how it came up with the $1000 check promised to the “average” family. While most people think they are average, the reality is that most families would get less than the $1000, possibly far less. Dominion hopes that the customer’s knowledge of math isn’t that great.
- Dominion does not tell the public that $1 billion of the $1.3 billion it says it will use for the residential and commercial payouts does not come from Dominion. That money comes from the Toshiba settlement that was due to go back to the ratepayers regardless of Dominion buying SCANA/SCE&G. How generous is it to take credit for giving the customers money they were already supposed to receive?
- Dominion does not tell the public that thousands of residential and business customers will not get any check because they do not meet the utility’s eligibility criteria. Current SCE&G customers who did not have an account in 2016 will not get a check. Current and previous customers who do not have an account with SCE&G in early 2019 will not get a check.
- Dominion does not tell customers that it has the resources to offer $1530 cash back to the average family but decided not to do so because it couldn’t get what it wanted from the state legislature.
- Dominion does not tell the public that it’s offer of a 7 percent electricity rate rollback is less than half of the temporary rate rollback ordered by the state legislature and approved yesterday by a federal judge. The same logic used by the legislature for a 15 percent temporary rollback will be used again in November to ask the PSC for at least a 15 percent permanent rate rollback.
“So how do we make sure that the upcoming decision of the Public Service Commission is not influenced by Dominion’s advertising campaign when it rules on how much SCE&G electricity rates should be rolled back,” asked Knapp.
“First, we expose the Dominion offer as a bad deal for ratepayers. Second, the Public Service Commission should separate the issues of SCE&G rate rollback from the question of the Dominion/SCANA/SCE&G merger,” said Knapp.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and the Coastal Conservation League have filed a motion with the PSC to have the rate rollback issue addressed in November and hold a hearing later on the proposed Dominion purchase of SCANA/SCE&G.
“The ratepayers deserve the undivided and Dominion-free attention of the PSC when it rules on SCE& rates,” said Knapp. “The “generous” Dominion offer should not influence this critically important decision by the Commissioners. Bifurcating the hearing will be a good step in achieving this goal.”
The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce is a statewide advocacy organization founded in 2000. With over 10,000 small business and entrepreneur supporters, it has successfully worked to make South Carolina more small business friendly in areas such as healthcare, taxation, regulation, worker training, energy/conservation, workers’ compensation and economic development.