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Santee Cooper proposes rate adjustment to begin in 2016


Board approves public comment period

06/22/2015


The Santee Cooper Board of Directors today authorized a public comment period for a proposed three-year rate adjustment beginning in 2016. If approved, the adjustment would be the utility's first since 2013.

The public comment period begins today and continues through Aug. 27, with options to comment online or by regular mail. People may also comment in person during a series of meetings in July.

The main factors driving the rate adjustment, proposed by Santee Cooper's management, include continued construction expenses associated with nuclear units at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station and slower than expected load growth following the latest recession.

Nuclear power is virtually emissions-free, and so these new units are critical as Santee Cooper diversifies its generation and prepares to meet strict new regulations restricting CO2 emissions.

"Santee Cooper continues to emphasize cost controls, including budget cuts and debt restructuring, so that we can postpone rate adjustments as long as possible," said Santee Cooper President and CEO Lonnie Carter. "If our recommended rate adjustment is approved, Santee Cooper electric rates will still rank among the lowest in the Southeast."

The proposed rate adjustment would increase rates across all customer groups by an average 2.7 percent each year for the three-year period. Specifically, the proposal recommends increases of an average 5.3 percent in 2016, 2.1 percent in 2017 and less than 1 percent in 2018.

A typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month now pays $112.70 a month. Under the proposal, that would increase $4.50 a month beginning April 1, 2016, $2.00 monthly beginning April 1, 2017, and $1.20 a month beginning April 1, 2018. The proposed rate adjustment would also affect commercial, industrial, municipal and lighting customers.

The proposal includes expanding Santee Cooper's distributed generation buy-back program for customers with rooftop solar or other home-based generation. Santee Cooper residential customers have had a net billing rate option since 2007, through which customers are reimbursed for excess electricity they generate less any fixed costs to serve that customer. The new recommendation would expand that option to commercial and industrial customers and ensure that costs to serve solar customers are not shifted to the rest of Santee Cooper's customer base.

More information is available at www.santeecooper.com/rates, and comments can be submitted online at that address. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 2946101, Moncks Corner, SC 29461. In addition, Santee Cooper management will present information about the rate proposal and take oral comments during meetings at the following locations:

  • July 14 at 2 p.m.: Waccamaw High School, 2412 Kings River Rd., Pawleys Island
  • July 14 at 6 p.m.: Santee Cooper Conway Office, 100 Elm St., Conway
  • July 15 at 2 p.m.: North Myrtle Beach City Hall, 1120 Second Ave. South, North Myrtle Beach
  • July 15 at 6:30 p.m.: Myrtle Beach Law Enforcement Center, 1101 N. Oak St., Myrtle Beach
  • July 21 at 6 p.m.: Santee Cooper Headquarters, 1 Riverwood Dr., Moncks Corner

The board will offer a final opportunity for public comments Oct. 16 and is scheduled to vote on the rate adjustment at its Dec. 7 meeting.

Santee Cooper is South Carolina's largest power provider, the largest Green Power generator and the ultimate source of electricity for 2 million people across the state. Through its low-cost, reliable and environmentally responsible electricity and water services, and through innovative partnerships and initiatives that attract and retain industry and jobs, Santee Cooper powers South Carolina. To learn more, visit www.santeecooper.com