SCE&G is planning a 9.52 percent rate hike, and after a year of phasing in, it would raise electric rates by $140 a year. South Carolina Electric and Gas spokesperson Eric Boomhower explains the latest rate hike:
This one is primarily about the environmental mandates that we had to comply with at our similar coal plants. We’ve had to spend over $600 million in putting state-of-the-art new equipment on some of these plants to help clean the air at those plants. Certainly it’s important to run things in an environmentally responsible way. But, there is a price tag associated with that, and it’s getting steeper all the time.
Boomhower says this rate increase dates back to 2008, when the company needed to find a way to recover the cost of the new equipment.
“At that time we were already a full year into a recessionary economy. And, we said: ‘We’ve got to put this off as long as we can.’ Unfortunately, we are at the point now where we have to go in and recover these dollars to maintain the health of the company and continue the ability to serve our customers reliably,” says Boomhower.
Since 2005, SCE&G has raised base rates three times. Boomhower says the utility has to keep up with the economy just like everyone else.
“The bottom line is that we know this is a challenging time for our customers. If we didn’t have to go in for this rate increase we wouldn’t be doing it. Nobody here wants to be going in, and especially right now and asking customers to pay more for electricity. We know people are being challenged. We are encouraging folks, if you need some kind of assistance with your bills give us a call, we work with customers everyday,” says Boomhower.
SCE&G held two public hearings in the Lowcountry this week. There are two more scheduled in May, one in Aiken, and the other in Columbia.