CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - More than a year after Dominion Energy announced it would make immediate cash payments of up to $1,000 for the average SCE&G customer within 90 days of closing its purchase of the company, a SCANA official says those payments won’t happen.
Dominion Energy originally proposed a customer benefits plan in conjunction with the merger which included a one-time cash payment to SCE&G customers which would have meant $1,000 cash payment to the average residential customer.
Over the course of the regulatory proceedings, Dominion says it became aware of support from policymakers for a plan that focused more on long-term bill relief instead of up-front refunds.
“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,” Rodney Blevins, president & chief executive officer of the Southeast Energy Group, which houses SCANA Corporation’s operating and services companies said. “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 proposed payment was intended to help repay SCE&G customers who had been paying for a nuclear reactor project in Jenkinsville that was subsequently abandoned.
The merger was approved by the South Carolina Public Service Commission on Dec. 14, but by then, the cash payment was off the table. Instead, the approved deal cut the average customer’s bill by approximately $22 per month and customers will be payinig for the failed project over the next 20 years.
Dominion Energy and SCANA Corporation announced the completion of the $6.8 billion merger on Jan. 2.
Lowcountry state rep. Wendell Gilliard had previously tried to file a resolution to hold Dominion to its initial proposal to SCE&G customers.
Blevins added that SCE&G customers should be able to see some benefits from the merger in the February billing cycle to include the following:
- Typical residential electric customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will see their bills drop from the current temporary level of $125.34 per month to $124.91 per month. This decrease places into effect bills that are now 15 percent below levels that were in effect in January 2018 prior to the temporary experimental reduction under Act 258 of the South Carolina General Assembly.
- · Natural gas customers will receive $2.45 million in bill credits in total over three years, producing an average bill credit of $1.07 for a residential customer in 2019, with similar credits in 2020 and 2021. The annual credit for 2019 has been applied to February bills. The annual credits for 2020 and 2021 will be applied to customer bills for the January billing cycle in each of those years.
- The benefit of federal tax reform is being passed on to customers. This will include a one-time credit in February bills to pass on the benefits related to 2018. Ongoing savings are reflected in rates beginning in February and are included in the $124.91 bill level.