Charleston Post & Courier
October 28, 2012
SCE&G customers should be outraged at the disparity. But then they should have been outraged all along. They already pay 35.7 percent more than Duke’s, 34 percent more than Progress’ and 26.1 percent more than Santee-Cooper’s customers.
With the downturn in financial markets, SCE&G has incurred additional expenses associated with employee pensions.
And SCE&G wants to add to a storm reserve to help in the event of another Hurricane Hugo.
Maybe the utility needs to economize. If expenses cited by the state’s Office of Regulatory Staff are any indication, there’s room for cost-cutting, and maybe for a change of attitude, too.
And SCE&G paid $370 for a $37 steak at a Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The ORS says the restaurant made a mistake on the bill, but it’s alarming that SCE&G’s accounting department didn’t question paying $370 for a steak. Even a $37 steak is pretty pricey.
SCE&G customers who don’t want to see their already-high bills get higher can send a loud message to the S.C. Public Service Commission, which must approve or deny the request.
History shows that people can make a difference by speaking up in a night hearing. In 2010, after catching considerable flak from understandably alarmed customers, SCE&G dropped its initial proposal for a boost in electricity rates from 9.52 percent to 6.55 percent over one year. Then it dropped its proposal to 4.88 percent — over three years.
The ORS is still determining what it will recommend to the PSC. It will definitely protest part of the rate increase request, and it might well protest a significant portion of the request.
Consumers should be advised that SCE&G also is likely to portray itself as the good guy by proposing a reduction in fuel costs to customers. But the fact is that state regulations dictate that the reduction would happen regardless of whether a rate hike is approved, according to the ORS.
If the PSC can rein them in, well, we’d drink to that — though with something less expensive than a $50 glass of scotch.