Process still biased toward big business
On January 14, 2003, the SC Public Service Commission voted 6 to 1 for an increase in electric rates for SCE&G customers that will cost small businesses 8% more starting in February. The company had requested a 14% rate increase on small businesses. Other rate increases were 5% for residential, 8% for medium business users and 3.89% for big industrial users.
The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce, which was the only party intervening in this rate case on behalf of small businesses, called the ruling a mixed bag. “We certainly are pleased that the Small Business Chambers’ strong efforts have resulted in a 43% decrease in the rate hike on small businesses requested by SCE&G,” said Tim Wilkes, Chairman of the Small Business Chamber. “However, small businesses are still going to see a rate increase that is two times greater than the increase on big business. The process is still terribly biased in favor of big business.”
Wilkes thanked the over 8500 members of the Small Business Chamber for their help in contacting their legislators and the PSC Commissioners. “Our attorney, executive director and I spent a lot of time at the week-long PSC hearing presenting our case, but it was our membership, public and the positive response from the legislators that made the best impact,” said Wilkes.
“This rate increase is still unfair to small businesses,” said Wilkes. According to Wilkes, SCE&G had not provided any hard data to document its proposed rates for the customer classes. Wilkes also pointed out that the only hard data introduced as evidence showed that it was the large commercial users that had increased their peak demand use much greater than small businesses.
“Small business is left paying the biggest rate increase based on no hard data,” said Wilkes. “SCE&G even admitted that they had a subjective public policy of keeping rates low for large industry. So it’s obvious that small business is subsidizing the electric rates of big business.”