To: South Carolina Electric & Gas

A SCANA company

1277 Chuck Dawley Blvd.

Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

Dear Valued Service Provider,

This letter is to inform you of an exciting new program going into effect next month for all utility service providers, whether you like it or not. This program will allow providers the security of regular payments for services as well as greater financial stability for their customers.

The program, South Carolina Reasonable Electricity & Water Utilities, is designed to keep our income flowing at predictable levels, regardless of any other “rate stabilization” programs, and to ensure a healthy profit for all shareholders in this unfortunately nonprofit endeavor (hereafter referred to as “the household”).

As you are aware, in the past eight years SCE&G (hereafter, “the utility”) has raised its electricity rates 23 times, resulting in a 47 percent increase in the cost of the average 1,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) since 2005.

This increase has been accomplished through simple, and predictable, fashion: The utility requests an absurdly high and unreasonable rate increase (say, 8 percent). The South Carolina Public Service Commission (hereafter, “the enablers”) counters with a smaller proposed increase (say, 2 percent). Customers complain, after which the enablers grant the utility a compromise (say, 4 percent).

This eliminates the troublesome need for a debate about whether said rate increase is needed in the first place.

In this period (hereafter referred to as “the cash grab”) the utility has racked up year after year of record profits, all while the household has seen its cash reserves severely depleted. The enablers ignore all protests (they must be getting a special deal on their rates!).

Two years ago, the utility enacted the Electric Weather Normalization Adjustment (eWNA), which was designed to “mitigate spikes in customers’ monthly energy bills and,” as the state Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) notes, “protect SCE&G from recovering less than its operating costs due to weather fluctuations.”

The ORS, which has recently called for an end to the eWNA, says the formula for this adjustment plan is known only to a few employees of the utility and a couple of Sherpas in the Himalayas, and is impossible for customers to comprehend.

“When the customer has considerable difficulty knowing the exact price, the link between price and quantity consumed is broken,” the ORS report states.

The formula for the South Carolina Reasonable Electricity & Water Utilities is based on the utility’s own formula for eWNA, which is as follows: Desired Dividends (DD) divided by the number of customers plus the cost of dinner at Ruth’s Chris (pricey meat) and single-malt Scotch (booze) for utility executives averaged by the “Base Load Review Act” (BS).

The new formula by which the utility will be paid is as follows: Money left over after house payment and groceries (pittance) minus cost of braces for kids divided by the number of cloudy days in Lima, Peru.

This seems reasonable, as the utility bases part of its formula for Charleston eWNA customers on the average weather in Columbia (bureaucrat heaven).

The net effect of this new formula will likely result in the utility receiving a rate of roughly $108 per 1,000 kWh, which is about what the utility was charging in 2008 (20 rate increases ago). This may seem low, but it is the current price per 1,000 kWh charged by Duke Energy Carolinas.

If you have comments or concerns about the new South Carolina Reasonable Electricity & Water Utilities, there will be a public hearing at 11 p.m. Nov. 8, 2013, in the parking lot of 134 Columbus St., where you will be given the opportunity to have your concerns ignored.

In addition, the household is also pleased to offer a “Budget Billing” program, by which you will receive a flat payment every month. Don’t worry — it’ll probably all even out in the long run.

We hope you will see the benefits of this new program, as it is designed to ensure the long-term financial viability of your customer base.

Thank you,

Brian Hicks

Please feel free to put your own name at the bottom of this letter and send to the address at the top.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.