By Stefanie Bainum
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) – All SCE&G customers could be in for a rate hike. The first public hearings about the rate increase start on Wednesday in Aiken.
The Lowcountry will get their chance to weigh in at a public hearing next month on Monday, November 5 at 6 p.m. held at the International Longshoreman's Association building at 1142 Morrison Drive.
"We know that these are challenging times and that the economy right now for our customers and a lot of customers are needing help and we have lots of things that they can do to reach out to us," said SCE&G spokesman, Kim Asbill. "We have customer service just a phone call away if folks are needing help with their electric bill."
SCE&G says they are requesting a 6.61 percent overall increase in retail electric base rates. At the same time, Asbill says they are seeking to reduce the fuel cost portion of the electric rates. According to Asbill, if the Commission approves the fuel coast decrease and the base rate increase, residential rates would increase 4.85 percent in January 2013.
That means, on average, the monthly bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity would increase $6.67.
Spokesman Kim Asbill of SCE&G says that the company has spent $300 million dollars in upgrades to ensure customer reliability and now it's time to get some of that money back.
"One of the key drivers for the rate increase is reliability; we know reliability is very important for our customers," Asbill says. "Reliability is one of the key reasons for the rate increase we've spent about $300 million dollars in upgrades to our system recently for reliability to increase reliability to our customers."
According to SCE&G, they have to go through a formal process for any rate increases or decreases because it's a regulated utility. The process of rate changes takes several months and the public hearings before the Public Service Commission are part of that process. The purpose of the S.C. Public Service Commission is to make sure rates are reasonable and fair.