SCE&G wants more of your money

SCE&G wants more of your money

For those of you in the South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) territory, get ready to mark your calendars.  The power company is asking for an overall rate increase of 6.6% on electricity for its 660,000 customers.  For small businesses the rate hike would be 4.19% and residential customers would pay a whopping 7.35% more for electricity.  The total new money being sought from customers by SCE&G with this filing is $151.5 million.

This rate hike has nothing to do with the SCE&G construction of the two nuclear reactors under cosntruction that they are also requesting another $238 million from their customers.  And this has nothing to do with regular fuel adjustments.  This is all about regular operational costs for SCE&G.

Is the increase justified?  We’re going to find out because the S.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold its hearing on the matter right after Thanksgiving.  I have formerly intervened in the process which gives me the right to cross examine all witnesses.  I have done this numerous times in the past and at the end of the day SCE&G proposed rate increases have been knocked down by up to 50%.

So what’s the prognosis this time?  Here are some facts.

–SCE&G already has the highest rates of the commercial power companies in South Carolina.  The average monthly residential bill for a 1000 kWh customer is $130.64 for SCE&G, $106.77 for Duke and $101.58 for Progress.

–SCE&G is asking to increase its return of common equity (the rate offered to Wall Street financiers to entice them to by SCE&G paper) from 10.7% to 10.95%.  This would be 0.45% higher than what Duke has been given by the PSC. 

–The parent company of SCE&G, SCANA, had a 29% increase in earnings in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period the year before.  That means that SCANA took in $72 million in profit in May, June, and July this year. 

If you want to let the PSC know how you feel about the proposed SCE&G rate hike, there are three public hearings.  All public hearings will start at 6 pm.

–Wednesday, October 24th, at the Aiken Technical College, Amphitheater (Room 701), 226 Jefferson David Highway, Graniteville, SC.

–Monday, November 5th, International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422, 1142 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC.

–Tuesday, November 27th, Public Service Commission of South Carolina, 101 Executive Center Drive, Columbia, SC.

You can check out the SCE&G filing (NO. 2012-218-E) at the PSC website, www.psc.sc.gov.  If you would like to comment by mail, send it to SC Office of Regulatory Staff, 1401 Main Street, Suite 900, Columbia, SC  29201.