South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. applied for a 3.06 percent increase in electric rates Monday to offset construction financing costs at its nuclear plant in Fairfield County.
It is the ninth electric rate increase the utility has requested under the state’s Base Load Review Act law passed in 2006 in preparation for SCE&G’s plan to build two new reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, north of Columbia.
The law allows SCE&G, principal subsidiary of SCANA Corp., to collect finance costs of new nuclear construction at the Summer plant upfront, before construction is complete or the plant begins operation, which SCE&G said will lower the plant’s overall costs to its customers.
The public has been critical of the practice.
If the request is approved by the South Carolina Public Service Commission later this year, the increase would go into effect in November and show up on customer’s December bills. SCE&G co-owns the Summer plant with public utility Santee Cooper.
The 3.06 percent increase would raise the monthly residential electric bill of a customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each month by $4.44, rising from $143.67 to $148.11, the company said. The request also includes a 3 percent rate increase for small and large commercial users and a 3.3 percent rate increase for medium commercial users.
For SCE&G residential customers, the proposed rate increase would still leave their 2016 electric bills lower than where they started in the beginning of the year, the company said, pointing a residential rate decrease installed by the company in April. The decrease was due to lower fuel costs incurred by the company, it said.
“By passing lower fuel costs from our efforts to ensure a balanced and diversified fuel mix to our customers, residential customers will see lower bills at the end of the year than they were receiving at the beginning of 2016,” said Steve Byrne, SCE&G chief operating officer, in a statement released by the company.
Earlier this month, SCE&G said it would request at least $852 million more from ratepayers to convert the remaining construction work at the plant to a fixed-price contract with Westinghouse and complete it. The Office of Regulatory Staff, which represents the public interest in utility regulation, expressed initial public doubt about the contract conversion, but must make a recommendation to the South Carolina Public Service Commission on change by Sept. 1.
Roddie Burris: 803-771-8398