Tuesday, February 12, 2019

No $1,000 refunds, but SCE&G customers should see their bills go down ... by a few cents

Average customers may or may not feel the $0.43 difference

Posted by Adam Manno on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 at 3:46 PM

click to enlarge Construction on the VC Summer nuclear expansion was halted in 2017 after $9 billion were spent. - SCE&G PHOTO
  • SCE&G photo
  • Construction on the VC Summer nuclear expansion was halted in 2017 after $9 billion were spent.
Dominion Energy told S.C. residents that they could get $1,000 if the Virginia utility was allowed to bail out SC&EG after its failed $9 billion nuclear project. Well, now that it owns SCE&G, Dominion says customers won't be seeing those checks, but their bills will be going down ... by about 75 cents.

One Charleston lawmaker, though, is pushing for the utility to make good on that $1,000 pledge.

Starting with this month's billing cycle, the average SCE&G residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours will see his or her monthly bill drop from $125.34 to $124.91, a difference of 43 cents, according to a press release from Dominion Energy on Monday.

Natural gas customers will get an average bill credit of $1.07 for the year, which will be applied to the February bill. Similar credits for 2020 and 2021 will be applied in January.

Citing the Republican tax plan signed by President Donald Trump in 2017, the company says it will also give ratepayers a one-time credit, though that amount has not yet been specified.

The state's Public Service Commission voted to approve the SCANA-Dominion merger in December.

"The new billing levels are part of the recent combination of Dominion Energy with SCANA after a three-week public hearing before the Commission," said Rodney Blevins, president & CEO of the Southeast Energy Group, which oversees SCE&G's parent company, SCANA.

Notably absent from the givebacks is that $1,000 refund check touted in Dominion's media push last year while the company courted S.C. politicians and public support as it sought approval last year.

Dominion first proposed to buy SCANA in January 2018, after the private energy company and its partner, the state-owned utility Santee Cooper, pulled out of a failed project to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County after spending $9 billion.

"While this option eliminated the one-time payment of $1,000 for an average residential customer as we originally proposed, it produced a significantly larger decrease to electric bills," Blevins said. "We understand some customers will be disappointed that refund checks are not included in the final approved plan, but we believe customers and South Carolina will benefit from the lower payments."

Come May, Dominion says SCE&G customers can 
click to enlarge Rep. Wendell Gilliard - JONATHAN BONCEK FILE PHOTO
  • Jonathan Boncek file photo
  • Rep. Wendell Gilliard

expect other reductions, including:
  • $0.36 a month for a typical residential customer, thanks to a a January filing regarding energy-efficiency resources
  • $0.20 a month for a typical residential customer, thanks to a February fuel cost adjustment proposal filed with the Commission.
Dominion Energy will hold a public meeting about the new rates on Mon. Feb. 25 at The Schoolhouse, 720 Magnolia Road, in West Ashley.

"This will be a time for ratepayers to hear firsthand information and how it will affect them especially
with regard to electric rates and billing," said state Rep.
Wendell Gilliard in a statement.

Last month, Gilliard introduced a resolution urging Dominion to stick to its promise of $1,000 refund checks.

The resolution reads:
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the House of Representatives, by this resolution, express the belief that Dominion Energy, Inc., now that its purchase of the SCANA corporation has been approved, should honor its first representations to ratepayers and pay them the average one thousand dollar refund of charges paid by them in regard to the construction of the now abandoned nuclear reactors at Jenkinsville, South Carolina, and to also express the belief of the members of the House of Representatives that if Dominion fails to honor in good faith this obligation, the South Carolina Public Service Commission, as part of future rate proceedings, should require Dominion to do so. 

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