Request by SCE&G for rate hike could cost residents nearly $50 yearly

Request by SCE&G for rate hike could cost residents nearly $50 yearly

JENKINSVILLE, SC (WIS) - Your power bill could be increasing in the near future.

South Carolina Electric & Gas has asked state regulators to approve a monthly rate hike ranging from two to eight percent for residential users and as much as three percent for commercial users.

The company says although the increase helps pay for construction of two nuclear plants in Jenkinsville, the higher rate is not the result of cost overruns. In fact, the increases cover financing costs and are allowed by the state law known as the Base Load Review Act.

"What we are doing through the Base Load Review Act is annually adjusting our rates to recover the financing costs associated with building our new nuclear project," SCE&G spokesperson Eric Boomhower said. "By doing that, by collecting those financing costs along the way, we're actually able to lower the overall cost of the project by about a billion dollars."

This is now the seventh time SCE&G has asked for an annual rate increase. All of their previous requests were approved by the state Public Service Commission.

Although the company says ratepayers will save up to $4 billion over the life of the plants, critics like nuclear power opponent Tom Clements says questions remain about how the plant project and the way we pay for it have gotten this far.

"SCE&G is taking advantage of the law and requesting that we pay for this financing costs in advance on a yearly basis," Clements said. "That's allowed but they claim we're saving money. But we're not saving money. We're already paying 13 percent of our bill for something we're not getting. And it could be up to 25 percent when it's all said and done before the first reactor starts."

Should the PSC approve the increase, a yearly residential bill could see an increase of nearly $48.

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