Politics & Government

Dominion Energy completes SCANA buyout. How will that change your power bill?

Regulators approve Dominion’s buyout of SCANA: What it means

Office of Regulatory Staff Executive Director Nanette Edwards explains what today's vote means for the rate payer.
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Office of Regulatory Staff Executive Director Nanette Edwards explains what today's vote means for the rate payer.

SCE&G electric customers will see their bills drop a few cents, but they won’t get a big check after Virginia-based Dominion Energy finalized its buyout of SCANA Corp. on Wednesday.

The S.C. Public Service Commission last month gave permanent relief — in the form of a rate cut — to SCE&G customers whose power bills had been raised nine times to finance the utility’s failed $9 billion nuclear plant construction project.

But SCE&G customers won’t see a major shrinkage on their bill since that rate cut — proposed by Dominion — is just a tad larger than the temporary SCE&G rate cut imposed by the General Assembly this summer.

Dominion will lower SCE&G’s electric rates by about 15 percent — or $22 a month for the typical residential customer. S.C. lawmakers had already cut SCE&G’s rates by nearly 15 percent, but only temporarily.

The average SCE&G residential customer will pay $124.91 a month under Dominion, slightly less than the $125.34 they are paying now. But it is significantly lower than the $147.70 a month that same customer paid before the Legislature’s rate cut, according to the utility’s latest filing with the PSC.

“Putting into effect bills below the temporary rates and keeping residential, commercial and industrial electric bills lower and competitive with neighboring states will aid South Carolina in its economic development efforts and ensure that the state has a reliable energy supply to fuel growth and power the state’s homes and businesses,” Dominion chief executive Tom Farrell said in a statement.

Customers already have paid more than $2 billion — about $27 a month on average — in higher power bills for the abandoned V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project. Since 2009, SCE&G customers have had their electric rates raised by 18 percent for the failed project. And customers will pay another $2.3 billion — or $1,600 for the average household — over the next 20 years for the two unfinished reactors.

Dominion initially offered customers a $10-a-month rate cut and a $1,000-per-household refund. However, PSC commissioners said the better financial option for customers was to replace the refund with a deeper rate cut.

Additionally, Dominion will provide bill credits of $3.75 million over three years to SCANA’s 564,000 gas utility customers in North Carolina and $2.45 million over three years to SCE&G’s 370,000 gas utility customers.

Staff writer Avery G. Wilks contributed to this story

Tom Barton covers South Carolina politics for The State. He has spent more than a decade covering local governments and politicians in Iowa and South Carolina, and has won awards from the S.C. Press Association and Iowa Newspaper Association for public service and feature writing.