Formal responses begin to be filed to Dominion Energy rate increase request

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Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Dominion Energy electric customers could be seeing a jump in their bills this fall, but how dramatic of a jump remains to be seen.

RELATED STORY | Dominion Energy submits ask to Public Service Commission to raise electric rates amid rising fuel costs

Various entities have begun filing paperwork in response to the request. Those responses will help shape how the process plays out.

Dominion Energy submitted a request to the S.C. Public Service Commission on Monday for a hearing on rate increases for residential (13.97% average expected increase) , commercial (16.88%) and industrial customers (26.70%).

The company asked for the rate increases to be implemented by the first November 2022 billing cycle in response to climbing fuel costs and under-collection of energy funds.

The commission ultimately has the final say on the request, but other actors traditionally make their voices heard to the commission.

The S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff represents the public interest and was the first to file a response.

The ORS Chief Legal Officer Christopher Huber submitted a letter to the commission stating it will review Dominion Energy’s arguments and reserves the right to re-examine the issue at the traditional annual rate review.

ORS Director Nanette Edwards said the current timeline only affords her team six weeks to review the relevant information, a tight window to do so.

She said re-review of the request at the annual rate review in the Spring is not guaranteed, but Huber writes in his letter Dominion did not object.

“There’s only so many things we can do in that time-period, this is not, does not give us the amount of time to do the full thorough review we normally do,” she said.

Edwards described the proposed increases as “substantial” and part of a nationwide trend.

“We’re seeing a trajectory, and unfortunately I’m not in a position to say that I see these commodity prices at this time pulling back. If you look at the futures, they’re not down. So that’s my concern, my concern is it’s not just this fuel case either, it’s this mid-year plus the annual,” she said.

She said anyone with concerns about the rates should contact her office.

CMC Steel South Carolina submitted paperwork to be an intervenor in the case, allowing the company to testify, cross-examine and appeal the commission’s decision.

The timeline for the hearing is unclear but commission documents Dominion Energy requested the hearing be held in early October.

Dominion Energy sent WIS a statement on the requested increase reading:

Recognizing the challenges economic pressures have placed on everyone, Dominion Energy has carefully considered the best way to minimize the impact of rising fuel costs to produce electricity that are beyond our control. Specifically, the cost of natural gas has more than doubled since the last fuel cost adjustment. The company has requested a mid-period adjustment so that our customers see the lowest possible increase to their bills as we recover costs of purchasing and transporting fuel to produce the electricity they rely on every day. These fuel costs are a direct pass-through to customers – Dominion Energy does not earn a profit on this portion of electric rates. We encourage customers to contact us if they need payment assistance. In addition to $250 million still available in state and federal programs, customers can learn more about $1 million available through EnergyShare, Dominion Energy’s year-round assistance program.

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