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      Santee Cooper taking comment on rate increase

      MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (AP) -- Santee Cooper is taking public comment on its plans to raise its electric rates.

      The state-owned utility is hearing from the public during a hearing at its Conway office on Thursday. There's a session Friday in Litchfield and hearings next week in Moncks Corner, North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach.

      The company has proposed a 3.5 percent rate increase to take effect on Dec. 1. Another 3.5 percent increase would follow on Dec. 1, 2013.

      The utility says the increases are needed to help cover the cost of a new nuclear reactor at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station and to meet the costs of new environmental regulations. The company has not increased its rates since November 2009.

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