COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolinians could see a rate increase as part of a settlement involving Dominion Energy.
The utility has been working for months to raise rates if approved by the Public Service Commission.
Dominion Energy and state agencies – including the Office of Regulatory Staff and South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs – announced Friday a comprehensive settlement in their electric rates case before the Public Service Commission of South Carolina.
Following months of good faith negotiations, the settlement filed Friday morning provides significant customer benefits while “ensuring the delivery of affordable, reliable, and increasingly sustainable electricity.”
The settlement is subject to review and approval by the Public Service Commission.
If approved, residential customers would see a net 1.46% increase in rates beginning September 1st. For a typical residential customer, that would mean a bill increase of only $1.81 a month.
The utility said it is committing up to $30 million in shareholder funds that will support vulnerable and economically distressed customers at no cost to ratepayers.
Support will be provided in the following ways:
- Up to $15 million will be used to forgive past due balances of more than 60 days, as of May 31, 2021. All customers are eligible to participate. Customer credits would take place within 90 days of a final PSC order.
- $15 million will be dedicated to energy efficiency upgrades and critical health and safety repairs to customer homes, which will allow those homes to participate in money-saving efficiency programs offered by the company. The funds will be administered by the South Carolina Office of Economic Opportunity, which also administers federal weatherization programs.
- DESC agreed to double its annual commitment to EnergyShare, the company’s year-round assistance program, setting funding at $1.5 million for 2021 and 2022. This includes $500,000 for small businesses, which is a new benefit the program offers. EnergyShare provides bill pay assistance for customers in need and home upgrades that promote energy conservation.
- DESC also agreed to keep its fixed monthly charge under $10. The current fee is $9, and the settlement fee is $9.50. Any other increase will depend on how much electricity a customer uses. Keeping fixed costs low helps customers manage their bills and encourages energy conservation efforts.
The settlement would result in a net annual revenue increase of approximately $35.6 million (approximately $61.6 million net of accelerated return of excess deferred income taxes) based on a 9.5% return on equity, 51.62% equity capitalization and rate base of $5.75 billion.
According to the SC Dept. of Consumer Affairs, Dominion Energy requested a revenue increase of $178 million and a return on equity of 10.25%.
The company agreed it would not file another general rate case for two years unless it runs into an unforeseen circumstance.
“I want to thank the Commission for pausing the proceeding and encouraging all parties to work to achieve consensus,” said Rodney Blevins, president of Dominion Energy South Carolina. “Reaching a consensus on a comprehensive settlement with all parties is a remarkable achievement and confirms that groups with varied interests can still achieve agreement on matters important to utility regulation in this state while keeping our rates below the national average.”