Vote on SCE&G rate hike could come by end of 2012

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The wait to find out if power bills will be rising for SCE&G customers could be coming to an end soon.

A spokesperson with the company says the South Carolina Public Service Commission could vote on the proposed 4% rate increase by the end of December.

If approved, the hike would go into effect in January, meaning the average customer would pay about $30 more a year.

The proposal has copped a lot of criticism, but the company stands by it.

"We are a very capital-intensive business…we have to go out and put poles in the ground or build plants and so forth or retrofit plans with environmental equipment…it takes a lot of money [and] we need to attract investment capital to be able to do that," said SCE&G Manager of Public Affairs, Eric Boomhower.

The company says the rate hike will help improve reliability and meet regulatory guidelines required for its coal-producing plants.

SCE&G had proposed a 6.5% rate increase, and they submitted several questionable expenses to the public service commission to justify it earlier this year. Expenses included 166 Zumba and "Body Sculp" classes from a private trainer totaling more than $6,000 and more than $1,200 in liquor from two separate dinners at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Columbia.

The 6.5% rate increase was then reduced to the current 4%.

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