COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Monday, November 9 is the first of three virtual public hearings – all set for this week – giving Dominion Energy customers the chance to weigh in on the company’s recent proposed rate increase.
On August 14, Dominion Energy filed an application with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to raise rates by 7.75% or about $178 million in revenue. The electric company says this would be its first rate increase since 2012.
It’s estimated that the typical South Carolina customer would see a less than 1% increase in their bills each year. According to Dominion Energy’s application for the rate increase, the company’s expenses have gone up and current customer rates do not reflect the true costs of providing service.
One customer in Richland County, James McComb, says it’s bad timing.
“During this pandemic when we’re all in economic struggles from being either unemployed or underemployed or small businesses are struggling just to keep their lights on at current rates, I think it’s kind of absurd for Dominion to come in and expect a 7.75% increase,” said McComb.
McComb also touched on the back and forth customers have experienced since the V.C. Summer project. You may remember that once that project was abandoned in 2017, SCE&G customers were paying about $147 each month. In 2018, the South Carolina Legislature passed a law temporarily reducing bills to about $125 per month, essentially providing refunds to customers for what they had contributed to the failed V.C. Summer project.
Dominion Energy officially took over for SCE&G in 2019 and McComb believes the company knew exactly what it was getting in to.
“They did the financials when they did they buyout. They knew what kind of financial shape SCE&G was in when they bought them out and part of the agreement was not to have a rate increase until coming up here in December and the first opportunity they get, here we go again, they’re trying to raise the rates again,” said McComb.
Part of the agreement when Dominion Energy took over SCE&G, was that the company agreed to freeze rates until this upcoming January. If the PSC approves Dominion’s proposed 7.75% rate increase, it will go into effect in March.
The PSC is holding three virtual public hearings this week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday all at 6 p.m. Customers are welcome to give public comment during one meeting but you will need to pre-register. The deadline to sign up is at 3 p.m., Monday. To register, call: 803-896-5133.
For customers who may be facing financial hardships because of the pandemic, a representative with Dominion Energy tells WIS-TV that the company has enhanced and expanded its payment plan options to include both short-term payment arrangements and long-term, interest-free installment plans to help customers manage balances.
Several of these programs have been modified to offer an even wider variety of options. The goal is to develop a plan that fits each customer’s unique budget, needs and circumstances. Customers may enroll in a plan through the Dominion Energy app, their online account, the automated voice response system or by speaking with a customer service representative.
For more information on Dominion Energy’s rate increase click here.