Published in GSABusiness
The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce has announced its formal opposition to the proposed SCE&G rate increase for small businesses. The rate increase, filed with the Public Service Commission on August 6th, calls for nearly a 14% increase on electricity used by small businesses.
“Small businesses are being asked to pay a rate increase that is 2 ½ times higher than that proposed for big business,” said Tim Wilkes, chairman of the Small Business Chamber. SCE&G has asked for a 5.38% rate increase on large commercial users compared to a 13.81% increase on small commercial users. Residential users would pay 7.06% more under SCE&G’s filing.
“Small businesses are tired of being treated like second class citizens. We produce 80% of the jobs in the state yet we pay higher state income tax than big business and receive no economic incentives from state government,” said Wilkes. “We’ve had enough.”
The Small Business Chamber will make an effort to promote business opposition to the rate increase, which will be the subject of a PSC public hearing on November 18th. The statewide advocacy organization has put information about the rate increase and how the public can oppose it on its web site (www.scsbc.org).
“Any utility rate increase during this poor economy is unwelcome,” said Wilkes, who noted that this unfair rare hike would dramatically increase costs for small business. “And for what reason?” asked Wilkes. “So that a state government sanctioned monopoly with a guaranteed profit can invest in more power generating capacity to make more money? Instead of charging the customer for this investment, SCE&G should get their investment revenue the way other businesses do—sell more stock, borrow money though loans or bonds, use existing profit or reduce other expenses.”
In 2000 the Small Business Chamber successfully opposed the creation of a $360 million universal service fund to have been paid with a new fee on telephone lines. The fee could have been as much as $13 per line per month. The PSC eventually approved a new fund of only about 10% of the original request from local telephone companies.