CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Remember that $1,000 refund once promised to ratepayers ahead of the merger between SCANA and Dominion Energy? It won’t be coming, and leaders with the utility company are now explaining why you will not see that check.
In a press release Monday, Dominion Energy addressed the benefits customers could see as a result of the merger. They say beginning with the February billing cycle, SCE&G customers will see benefits in the form of long-term lower electric bills.
“The new billing levels are part of the recent combination of Dominion Energy with SCANA after a three-week public hearing before the (Public Service Commission of South Carolina,” said Rodney Blevins, president and CEO of the Southeast Energy Group, which houses SCANA Corporation’s operating and services companies.
In the press release, the company outlined many of the benefits and rate decreases:
Typical residential electric customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see their bills drop from the current temporary level of $125.34 per month to $124.91 per month.
They say this decrease places into effect bills that are now 15-percent below levels that were in effect in January 2018 prior to the temporary reduction under Act 258 if the SC General Assembly.
Natural gas customers will receive $2.45 million in bill credits in total over three years, producing an average bill credit of $1.07 for a residential customer in 2019, with similar credits coming in 2020 and 2021.
The utility company says annual credit for 2019 has been applied to February bills. The annual credits for 2020 and 2021 will be applied to customer bills for the January billing cycle in each of those years.
The benefit of federal tax reform is being passed on to customers, they say. This will include a one-time credit in February bills to pass on the benefits related to 2018.
Additionally, the utility providers say ratepayers will see the following reductions to their electric bills beginning in May, subject to regulatory approvals:
- $0.36 per month for a typical residential customer stemming from a Jan. 31 filing regarding Demand Side Management programs, which are energy-efficiency resources.
- $0.56 per month for a typical residential customer from a Feb. 8 fuel cost adjustment proposal filed with the SC Public Service Commission.
- A total of $0.56 per month for a typical residential customer when the fuel and Demand Side Management cost-recovery proposals are combined, which would lower a customer’s monthly bill from $124.91 to $124.35.
Now, when it comes to that cash refund, the utility provider says the company has received questions about that status of the up-front cash refunds that were promised to SCE&G ratepayers upon approval of the merger.
Over the course of the regulatory proceedings, the company became aware of significant support from policymakers and other key stakeholders for a plan that focused more on long-term bill relief instead of upfront cash.
In other words, don't expect it.
"After listening to policymakers and other key participants, we developed and offered a plan to lower bills as much as we could while still providing equivalent or greater value for customers," said Blevins. "While this option eliminated the one-time payment of $1,000 for an average residential customer as we originally proposed, it produced a significantly larger decrease to electric bills."
He went on to say, "We understand some customers will be disappointed that refund checks are not included in the final approved plan, but we believe customers and South Carolina will benefit from the lower payments."
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