SCE&G customers won't get $1,000 dollar cash refund, after all

FILE - This Sept. 21, 2016 file photo shows Unit one of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, S.C. Dominion Energy says it’s completed a merger with the South Carolina utility reeling in the wake of a multibillion-dollar nuclear construction failure. . (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

SCE&G customers will not recieve a rebate averaging out to $1,000 per customer after parent-company SCANA's merger with Dominion Energy, despite being in the original proposal.

Even though a up-front, one-time cash refund totaling $1.3 billion was "a key feature of the original merger proposal," the company says policy makers and and other key stakeholders "focused more on long-term bill relief instead of up-front cash refunds."

The $1.3 billion refund was proposed as reciprecation for years of rate increases to fund construction of two nuclear reactors that were abandoned in South Carolina.

Customers owe billions of dollars for the abandoned plants at the V.C. Summer site. Regulators voted to reduce SCE&G electric rates, but customers will continue to pay monthly for the abandoned plants for 20 years.

“After listening to policymakers and other key participants, we developed and offered a plan to lower bills as much as we could while still providing equivalent or greater value for customers,” said Rodney Blevins, president & chief executive officer of the Southeast Energy Group, which houses SCANA Corporation’s operating and services companies, including SCE&G.

“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. 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. The lower electric bills will also help make South Carolina more competitive in attracting new business to the state by taking SCE&G’s bills from among the highest in the region to levels near the regional average, and well below the national average.”

The release also detailed changes SCE&G customers will see.

That includes a $2.45 million in bill credits over the next three years that will be given to natural gas customers, averaging out to $1.07 per residential customer in 2019.

It also says customers will see a $0.56 cent reduction for fuel costs adjustments and Demand Side Management programs.

Overall, it says customers should see the average price drop from $125.34 a month to $124.91.

The company says it will file "a general rate case in mid-2020 incorporating merger savings and the changes in cost of service, among other things." Any rate changes affecting customer's bills will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, when Dominion's merger commitment to freeze base rates expires.

“Dominion Energy committed to the Public Service Commission (Commission) of South Carolina that SCE&G customers will continue to experience savings on their electric bills as a result of Dominion Energy’s levelized Customer Benefits Plan,” said Blevins “The new billing levels are part of the recent combination of Dominion Energy with SCANA after a three-week public hearing before the Commission.”
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