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Dominion Energy electric rate case settlement reached, SC says

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 8:56 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2021 at 7:42 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina officials announced a settlement in Dominion Energy’s electric rate case before the state’s Public Service Commission.

The settlement, filed Friday morning in Columbia, would include a 1.46% increase in rates for residential customers effective Sept. 1.

The settlement is the result of “months of good faith negotiations,” a release from the Office of Regulatory Staff states, and will provide “significant customer benefits while ensuring continued delivery of affordable, reliable and increasingly sustainable energy.”

“We believe the negotiations led to a well-rounded, creative resolution containing consumer-friendly measures that otherwise would not be available through a formal proceeding,” South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs spokesperson Carri Grube Lybarker said.

If the PSC adopts the settlement, a typical residential customer would see a bill increase of about $1.81 per month, the release states.

Dominion Energy is also committing up to $30 million in shareholder funds to support vulnerable and economically distressed customers at no cost to rate payers, the release states.

That support would be provided in the following ways:

  • Up to $15 million will be used to forgive past due balances of more than 60 days, as of May 31, 2021. All customers are eligible to participate. Customer credits would take place within 90 days of a final PSC order.
  • $15 million will be dedicated to energy efficiency upgrades and critical health and safety repairs to customer homes, which will allow those homes to participate in money-saving efficiency programs offered by the company. The funds will be administered by the South Carolina Office of Economic Opportunity, which also administers federal weatherization programs.
  • DESC agreed to double its annual commitment to EnergyShare, the company’s year-round assistance program, setting funding at $1.5 million for 2021 and 2022. This includes $500,000 for small businesses, which is a new benefit the program offers. EnergyShare provides bill pay assistance for customers in need and home upgrades that promote energy conservation.
  • DESC also agreed to keep its fixed monthly charge under $10. The current fee is $9, and the settlement fee is $9.50. Any other increase will depend on how much electricity a customer uses. Keeping fixed costs low helps customers manage their bills and encourages energy conservation efforts.

If approved, the settlement would result in a net annual revenue increase of approximately $25.6 million, based on a 9.5% return on equity, 51.62% equity capitalization and rate base of $5.75 billion.

The company had requested a revenue increase of $178 million and a return on equity of 10.25%.

Dominion Energy South Carolina President Rodney Blevins said the settlement was an accomplishment all parties could be proud of.

“I want to thank the Commission for pausing the proceeding and encouraging all parties to work to achieve consensus,” Blevins said. “Reaching a consensus on a comprehensive settlement with all parties is a remarkable achievement and confirms that groups with varied interests can still achieve agreement on matters important to utility regulation in this state while keeping our rates below the national average. We are sincerely grateful to all parties for the spirit of cooperation, patience and compromise that they brought to these negotiations.”

The company agreed not to file another general rate case for two years, absent unforeseen circumstances.

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