Once deregulated, utilities will compete for customers

Once deregulated, utilities will compete for customers

Lexington County Chronicle
January 24, 2019

By Jerry Bellune

Lexington County residents will save an average $220.28 a year with competitive electric rates.

That’s the prediction of Dr. Kathleen Grace, a Wofford College professor and expert on the SCANA-Santee Cooper nuclear fiasco.

Grace said the average SC residential electricity bill was $1,423 a year in 2016.

That will drop $220 a year – more than $18 a month –when South Carolina ends regulated monopolies such as SC Electric & Gas, now owned by Dominion Energy.

That’s a saving of $413.5 million a year and “this doesn’t account for changes in demand that occur when prices drop,” she said in Columbia last week at a program arranged by Frank Knapp, CEO of the SC Small Business Chamber.

Competition will drive electric rates even lower, said another expert, Jim Clarkson, a Georgia consultant who helps companies lower their power costs.

He said lawmakers need:
• To put competition in power distribution as has been done in other states.
• Allow industries to cut costs by allowing them to buy power from sources outside monopoly areas.

This will help economic development and make the state more competitive in attracting industry.

This can’t work in Lexington County without changing a state law which forbids competition to SCE&G.

A Goose Creek manufacturer lowered its electric costs by buying from a competitor to Santee Cooper.

Some may say such deals are not fair, Clarkson said.

“When one company is able to negotiate a deal to make itself more competitive, we applaud that as the free enterprise system.

“When other companies are not even allowed to negotiate, that is appalling.

“South Carolina should have a system to allow large customers to negotiate for 3rd-party power regardless of which utility is the incumbent supplier. Ultimately such action should move the electric utilities to become more competitive.”