Commissioners unanimously vote in favor of eighth SCE&G rate inc - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Commissioners unanimously vote in favor of eighth SCE&G rate increase

The Public Service Commission has unanimously approved a 2.6 percent rate increase for South Carolina Electric and Gas customers. 

The vote came Wednesday afternoon after SCE&G asked for the increase due to costs associated with the VC Sumner Nuclear Plant in Fairfield County.

For those of you keeping score, that means the average bill for SCE&G customers will rise to $150 a month. This is the eighth rate increase since 2009 associated with the Sumner plant project.

Critics, including AARP, the Small Business Chamber of Commerce and the group known as SRS Watch have blasted the rate hike. SRS Watch says by the time both plants are operational, customers will have been hit with 25 percent higher bills just to pay for financing costs.

"I think there really needs to be deeper consideration by the Public Service Commission," rate hike opponent Tom Clements said. "If they're just going to rubber stamp these requests year after year after year. The rates are shooting up over this and they're only going to go higher."

SCE&G, meanwhile, has defended the increase, saying advance payments will save ratepayers in the long run. 

"We actually reduce the cost of the project by about a billion dollars we estimate, and so then over the life of the units we actually can lower the amount we have to collect from our customers by about $4 billion is our estimate," SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower said.

Opponents of the hike are pointing at the fact that the reactor project is two years behind schedule. The Office of Regulatory Staff is reviewing SCE&G's justification for this rate hike. Overall officials there do agree, the increase will benefit customers long term. It will take effect at the end of October.

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