July 23, 2013
By Rudolph Bell, Greenvilleonline.com
Power bills for homeowners and renters would increases lightly more than 10 percent over two years – much more than business customers –under a proposed settlement of Duke Energy’s third rate hike in South Carolina since 2010.
The settlement, which the state Public Service Commission will have to approve for it to take effect, was announced late Tuesday by Duke and the Office of Regulatory Staff, the state agency responsible for protecting the public interest in utility matters.
It cuts by 46 percent Duke’s original request to collect another $220 million a year from 540,000 customers in South Carolina, most of them in the Upstate.
Even so, a monthly residential power bill for 1,000 kilowatt-hours would rise $7.52, to $107.97, the first year and another $2.79 the second year, for a total of $110.76, according to the ORS.
For retailers and other commercial customers, power bills would rise an average of 6.42 percent over the two years, while factories would pay an average of 7.34 percent more over the period.
The first rate hike would take effect Sept. 18 and the second exactly one year later, if the settlement terms hold.
“This is really the best we can hope for,” said Frank Knapp, president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce, which intervened in the case on behalf of its members.
Knapp said small business customers, a subcategory of commercial customers, will pay 3.42 percent more over the two years.
Knapp testified in the rate hike case on behalf of small businesses, and another group, the South Carolina Energy Users Committee, testified on behalf of industrial customers.
But no one intervened on behalf of residential customers, said Dukes Scott, executive director of the ORS.