South Carolina Electric & Gas power customer will see their bills go up at the start of the new year.

The Cayce-based utility said the S.C. Public Service Commission of South Carolina today approved a $97.1 million rate increase.

For residential customers, monthly bills will go up 1.8 percent starting in January, or $2.59 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Business customers will pay between 0.08 percent and 1.67 percent more, depending on their size.

But the annual impact on ratepayers will be actually bearound $32 million based on the drop in the price of natural gas thatSCE&G buys to generate some of its power. Regulators today also approved a reduction in the amount the company passes on to customers for fuel.

The company originally sought a $151.5 million increase. It slashed its request in November after reaching a deal with opponents who argued that the rate proposal included unnecessary items and excessive returns for shareholders of SCE&G owner SCANA Corp.

Keller Kissam, the utility’s president of retail operations, said the rate hike was primarily driven by rising expenses associated with environmental regulations and reliability requirements.

SCE&G serves 669,000 electrical customers in South Carolina. About half are in the Charleston region.

See upcoming editions of The Post and Courier for more details.