Multiple town hall meetings being held regarding proposed rate increase for Palmetto Utilities customers

Multiple town hall meetings being held regarding proposed rate increase for Palmetto Utilities customers

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Tuesday, Jan. 28, Palmetto Utilities will hold two town hall meetings where customers can learn more about a proposed rate increase.

The water company is asking that customers pay 28% more for services. This will mean instead of the current monthly charge of $52.10, customers will be charged a little more than $66 each month.

Tuesday’s town hall meetings come just one day after a public hearing was held for Blue Granite Water Company customers also facing a possible rate hike.

Those customers face up to 56% more in charges every month.

Customers with both companies are getting some help to fight against the proposed increases. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs is petitioning against both proposals to the Public Service Commission, which will make the final decision regarding any rate changes.

“Folks say, ‘we don’t want our rate to increase,’ and we understand that, and our mission is, again, to make sure that folks are getting quality, reliable service at reasonable prices and if a rate is not justified, then we’ll make that known to the Public Service Commission through our experts’ testimony," Carri Grube Lybarker, a consumer advocate administrator with SC Department of Consumer Affairs said.

We don’t represent individual consumers when we’re doing the rate-making intervention. It’s the public as a whole.”

The Department of Consumer Affairs has the ability to intervene in utility rate cases if the office is concerned that customers are not being provided quality service at a reasonable price. They then hire a team of experts to investigate the reason(s) behind the rate increase.

“They look at what the company says their investors should be expecting. They look to see how the increases will be allocated among the different consumers who are receiving those services, and they look to see whether or not they were reasonable in making purchases that proceeded the rate-making, as well,” Lybarker said.

The team of experts with the Department of Consumer Affairs will then present their findings to the Public Service Commission. The companies, Blue Granite and Palmetto Utilities will have the opportunity to respond before the PSC makes a final decision.

The first town hall meeting on Tuesday, begins at 3:30 p.m. and the second is at 6 p.m.. Both are being held at the North Springs Park Community Center on Clemson Road. There will be one more town hall meeting this week. It will be held Wednesday at Lake Carolina Elementary at 6 p.m..

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