Small business questions rate hike

Published in the Lexington County Chronicle and Dispatch News

A state business leader wants to know why small businesses should pay more than twice what large industry pays for electricity.
Tim Wilkes, chairman of the Small Business Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tim Wilkes said he finds S.C. Electric & Gas’s explanation of its rate hike request unconvincing.

The power compnay wants a 5% increase for large commercial businesses, 7% for home owners and 14% for small businesses. A PSC hearing on the rates will be Nov. 18.

SCE&G spokesman Robin Montgomery said the cost of providing power to small business is greater than to its 350 larger commercial customers. He said the company also needs the money to build more plants to supply more power.

“First, SCE&G’s need for more generating capacity may in fact be legitimate,” said Wilkes a Certified Public Accountant. “However, the company provides no justification for why it is the consumer who has to provide SCE&G with the capital investment funds which would more appropriately come from current profit, dividends, cost controls and raising funds from bonds or selling more stock. Until SCE&G fully explains why the latter avenues are not sufficient to meet their expansion needs, any rate increase must be opposed.”

“In regard to small businesses being asked to pay a rate increase 2-½ times more than the large commercial user, their explanation that small business distribution line construction and maintenance costs are higher is a moot point,” said Wilkes. “Transmission line construction costs for most small and big businesses have already been paid for. Maintenance costs for both haven’t changed.”

“The Public Service Commission has already approved rates for SCE&G that already take into account the difference in costs for providing electricity to small and big businesses,” said Wilkes. That’s why big businesses pay less per kilowatt hour than small businesses and home owners.

“Any rate increase that can be justified must be the same percentage for all electricity users.”

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