S.C. Public Service Commission considers smaller Dominion Energy rate increase request

Watch WIS News 10 at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 8:58 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Electricity for Dominion Energy customers could come with a higher price tag in the new year.

The Public Service Commission of South Carolina, which must approve any increase, held a hearing on the matter Tuesday.

All parties reached a settlement agreement which, if approved, would increase rates for all of its more than 780,000 customers in South Carolina.

The terms of the settlement agreement, which were announced Tuesday, laid out a smaller rate increase than the one that was initially proposed by the company in August.

The terms were agreed upon in coordination with the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff.

“All parties recommend the stipulation be accepted and approved in its entirety as a fair and reasonable resolution of this proceeding,” Christopher Huber, counsel for the Office of Regulatory Staff, said at the meeting. “ORS appreciates the efforts of the company in initiating the settlement discussions that resulted in this stipulation.”

If the rate increase is approved, residential Dominion customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month would pay an average of $7.78 more on their bills, or around $140.57. That represents a 5.8 percent increase.

Dominion’s original proposal for its mid-period rate increase laid out a 13.97 average expected to increase for residential customers.

Businesses would incur a steeper increase.

The average commercial property’s bill would jump from around $16,485 at 150,000 kilowatt-hours per month to $17,639. That would be a seven percent increase.

The original proposal for commercial customers outlined a potential 16.88 percent increase.

The largest rate hike would be for industrial customers. They would see an average monthly rate increase of about $50,000 thousand, from about $456,541 to $507,217. That represents an 11.1 percent increase.

A 26.70 increase for industrial customers was initially proposed in August.

According to Dominion, the higher rate is to battle rising fuel, coal, and natural gas costs.

To offset some of those costs, Kevin O’Donnell, a consultant for the State Energy Users Association, said South Carolina “badly” needs more pipelines.

“We need to get some of that Marcellus and Appalachian gas flowing from north to south because our growth is going to depend on it,” he said.

Dominion is expected to announce a deficit of about $404 million by April 2023.

Another proposed rate hike is possible, Allen Rooks, Dominion Energy’s Manager of Regulation, said.

“This is a fair proposal right now for customers,” he said. “I think probably as you step back and take a look at this, we’re heading towards some higher factor, I don’t know what that is or what that will be, but this is a measured step in that direction. It’s not I guess placing the whole burden entirely on customers at one time.”

Dominion Energy spokesperson Rhonda O’Banion released a statement on the settlement, which reads: “Recognizing the challenges economic pressures have placed on everyone, and considering natural gas prices have lessened over the past several months, Dominion Energy is pleased that we have reached an agreement with all parties in the best interest of our customers by reducing the immediate impact of the fuel increase. We encourage customers to contact us if they need payment assistance.”

The company says it empathizes with customers struggling to pay their bills, and has more than $100 million available in various customer assistance programs.

All parties have until December 15 to file a proposed order on how they would like the Public Service Commission to vote on this rate hike. A final decision is expected before the end of the year.

If approved, customers would see an increase in their bills beginning in January.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.