COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), along with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) along with several other state agencies have reached a settlement in the electric rate case.
If adopted by the Commission, residential customers would see a net 1.46% increase in rates, starting Sept. 1, 2021. For a typical residential customer, that would mean a bill increase of only $1.81 a month.
According to (SCDCA) officials, after months of negotiations, the settlement is expected to provide customer benefits and sustainable electricity. The settlement still needs to be reviewed and approved by the Commission.
“We are thankful for the partnership of interested parties involved in this matter,” SCDCA Administrator and Consumer Advocate Carri Grube Lybarker said, “We believe the negotiations led to a well-rounded, creative resolution containing consumer-friendly measures that otherwise would not be available through a formal proceeding.”
DESC also is committing up to $30 million in shareholder funds to support vulnerable and economically distressed customers at no cost to ratepayers. Support will be provided in the following ways:
- Up to $15 million will be used to forgive past due balances of more than 60 days, as of May 31, 2021. All customers are eligible to participate. Customer credits would take place within 90 days of a final PSC order.
- $15 million will be dedicated to energy efficiency upgrades and critical health and safety repairs to customer homes, which will allow those homes to participate in money-saving efficiency programs offered by the company. The funds will be administered by the South Carolina Office of Economic Opportunity, which also administers federal weatherization programs.
- DESC agreed to double its annual commitment to EnergyShare, the company’s year-round assistance program, setting funding at $1.5 million for 2021 and 2022. This includes $500,000 for small businesses, which is a new benefit the program offers. EnergyShare provides bill pay assistance for customers in need and home upgrades that promote energy conservation.
- DESC also agreed to keep its fixed monthly charge under $10. The current fee is $9, and the settlement fee is $9.50. Any other increase will depend on how much electricity a customer uses. Keeping fixed costs low helps customers manage their bills and encourages energy conservation efforts.