Irate Columbia-area sewer customers look ahead to state hearing on rates

Irate Columbia-area sewer customers look ahead to state hearing on rates

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Hearing dates have now officially been set as Palmetto Utilities Inc. plans to make its case to the state next year for higher service rates.

The South Carolina Public Service Commission will be meeting to take up the company's appeal on January 17, 2018, and possibly January 18, 2018.

During those hearings, members of the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on a rate increase plan that would stretch over the next three years. By 2020 many customers of Palmetto Utilities will be paying a flat fee of $68.05 per month for sewer service.

"I do plan to go," said Ronald Dorsey, who is a customer of Palmetto Utilities in Richland County.

Dorsey added that currently, the monthly sewer bill for his home is about $22.00 and the members of his household are always working to conserve water to keep that cost low.

Dorsey says the proposed fixed rate increase, which will not be based on a home's sewer usage,  just doesn't seem fair.

"It just would seem to me that if we're going to charge a rate the rate should be charged somehow on what we're using," Dorsey said, "It just doesn't seem fair that we sit here and we charge somebody who uses two units of water $60 and also charge somebody who uses 20 units of water $60."

Officials with Palmetto Utilities have argued that the rate increase is necessary so the company can pay off about $80 million in investments that have been made to its wastewater treatment system.

Much of that money has gone towards the expansion of the Spears Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant to handle new customer growth.

Palmetto Utilities is aiming to begin its first wave of rate increases in March of 2018. At that time the monthly cost for sewer service would go about $10 per month. That process would then repeat in 2019 and again in 2020 bringing the fixed rate up to $68.05.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved.