South Carolina’s Public Service Commission has ordered SCE&G to begin lowering their rates by 15 percent beginning this summer.
The move Tuesday comes after legislators passed a bill last week setting the new rates in response to the V.C. Summer nuclear project’s failure. The PSC moved to implement the lower rates on Monday, but waited until it reviewed SCE&G’s proposed changes before it made the order on Tuesday.
The change would save the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatts per month roughly $22 on each bill. SCE&G must also issue a credit to customers to match the lower rates during the months of May, June and July.
SCE&G is suing to stop the move, arguing the law passed last week is unconstitutional because the utility expanded the V.C. Summer plant with the understanding it could recover debt through customers’ bills. SCE&G and its partner Santee Cooper abandoned the project last August amid ballooning costs and the bankruptcy of its lead contractor Westinghouse.
Legislators and the state Office of Regulatory Staff insist the changes are legal because SCE&G did not fully inform regulators about V.C. Summer’s problems while seeking approval to raise customers’ rates. The 15 percent reduction covers the total increase in rates dedicated towards the project since problems began causing delays in 2010.
The 15 percent “experimental” decrease would only be in effect until the PSC makes a final decision before December.