SCE&G rate hikes demand justification
There was no discussion. The vote was unanimous. And so the state Public Service Commission approved yet another rate hike for South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. customers on Wednesday.
The 2.6 percent increase will help pay for two new nuclear reactors under construction at the V.C. Summer site in Fairfield.
Though the decision should come as no surprise — it is the eighth hike in seven years related to the reactors — the apparent lack of scrutiny from the commission is discouraging, at best.
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Public Service Commission members are charged with checking the power of the state’s utilities and defending the interests of South Carolinians who rely on those utilities for dependable, affordable energy. According to the commission’s mission statement, the goal is to ensure that “core or captive customers with little market power are not unduly burdened with the costs of competition.”
But the skyrocketing electric bills paid by SCE&G customers each month — average bills have increased by roughly 35 percent since 2008 — call into question the effectiveness of the PSC in achieving that goal. At the very least, they owe their constituents an explanation about their complacency.
Instead, South Carolinians get one rubber-stamped rate increase after another.
Post & Courier
Crack down on distracted driving
One of the most terrifying things for a driver to see in the rear-view mirror when he or she has been forced to a dead stop is another car barreling toward a line of paralyzed vehicles. This frightening experience happens often when an accident or even just rush-hour traffic brings everything to a standstill on the interstate.
Greenville News reporter Tim Smith’s recent story will make people feel more anxious about sitting in a stopped vehicle on Interstate 85. He found that more accidents are happening on I-85 that involve stopped vehicles, based on accidents reports provided to the newspaper by the state Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs. …
A driver going 60 mph over the hill crest at BMW on I-85 can check out a text message, take his or her eyes off the road for just 5 seconds, and travel more than 400 feet by the time those eyes are back on the interstate. As (Cpl. William T.) Rhyne said, “They’ve never even looked at the road and they don’t have time to react.”
Greater presence by law enforcement is needed on South Carolina’s highways, and now, as we can tell, in areas such as the hot spots on I-85 where accidents are happening at an alarming rate. Also needed is more attention to the many distractions that a driver is facing.
Raise gas tax
To our dismay, to everybody’s disappointment, the road to a road plan hit a dead end this year in the South Carolina General Assembly.
An inevitable rise in the state’s gas tax was delayed.
How high does that tax need to go to fix a big, Big, BIG problem? …
The House plan called for a gas tax hike of 10 cents per gallon. The Senate plan called for a 12-cent increase.
Here is our response: That isn’t nearly enough.
How about 20 cents?