SC governor calls on Dominion Energy to drop plans to raise 753K customers' bills
- Dec 1, 2020 5:05 pm GMTDec 1, 2020 6:51 pm GMT
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"I urge Dominion to reconsider its position and apparent plans to proceed with seeking a substantial rate increase in the midst of a pandemic," McMaster wrote. "A sizable rate increase at this difficult time would impose an unexpected and untenable burden on many South Carolinians."
He went on to say that if the company proceeds with its request, he will ask
The company made it clear Tuesday that it would not be dropping its rate hike request.
"We take seriously the concerns that the governor expressed," Dominion spokeswoman
Dominion submitted its rate-hike request to the seven-member regulatory panel in August to increase its power rates by 7.7 percent. It marked the first attempt by the utility to raise electric bills in the state since its acquisition of
Lawyers for Dominion are set to face off against environmental groups, large manufacturers and two consumer advocacy agencies when the process begins early next year.
Hearings will determine whether the utility is allowed to increase the power bills for customers around
The company was already facing pushback on its request from the state
O'Banion suggested Dominion might be willing to adjust its rate hike request to meet some of the demands of those groups.
"We welcome the opportunity to work with parties for the purpose of identifying contested issues on which we may find agreement as well as discussing appropriate compromises," she said.
McMaster can't force Dominion to drop its request, but his letter places more high-level pressure on the
SCE&G ended up in Dominion's hands about 18 months after an expansion of
Dominion also persuaded regulators to allow the company to charge SCE&G electric users another
The rate hike request was filed this past summer.
Dominion now wants its electric ratepayers to reimburse it for millions of dollars that were spent over the past eight years on storm damage costs, power plant upgrades, tree-trimming expenses, power line improvements and incentive packages for the utility's employees. That would increase residential bills to
Earlier this month, Dominion CEO
"I think the credibility that we seek to establish and that we're going to continue to maintain will help us out," Blue said.
But it's not working out that way. McMaster specifically cited how much Dominion is worth on
"I feel sure that Dominion has been affected by COVID-19 as well," wrote McMaster, a Republican. "However, it is my understanding that Dominion's parent company has a current market capitalization of over
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with that in and of itself," McMaster added, "but as South Carolinians are working to keep their lights on and their businesses open, it is important to place Dominion's request for a rate increase in the appropriate context."
The governor isn't the only
Several state lawmakers, who elect the state's utility regulators, also raised issues with Dominion's rate hike request during public hearings that were held earlier this month. Senate Majority Leader
"Frankly, what are Dominion's customers getting that is worth anything more per month?" Massey asked.
"The timing couldn't be worse," McLeod told the utility commissioners. "We're in a global pandemic with record exposures, record deaths and record unemployment.
"Where's the logic or urgency that would compel Dominion to do something like this now on the backs of those who can least afford it?" she asked.