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Dominion's CEO hints the upcoming electricity rate hike will be less than 10 percent

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Dominion Energy is expected to ask the Public Service Commission to raise electric rates in South Carolina. File/Cindi Ross Scoppe/Staff

Dominion Energy provided a clue Friday about the size of the electric rate increase the utility will ask South Carolina's utility regulators to approve later this year. 

During a quarterly earnings call with analysts, Dominion CEO Tom Farrell said the company will ask to raise people's monthly power bills in the Palmetto State somewhere between 1 percent and 9 percent.

He did not give a specific figure, but said the request to state regulators would include a "single-digit percentage rate increase."

Dominion, which is based in Richmond, Va., bought South Carolina Electric & Gas in early 2019, and assumed control of SCE&G's roughly 734,000 electric ratepayers in the state. 

Dominion has planned to file a rate hike request with the S.C. Public Service Commission for months. It was supposed to start that process in April, but it held off because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The details of Dominion's rate hike request is now expected to be released on Aug. 14, according to a letter the company filed with the commission earlier this month.

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SCANA - Dominion merger (copy) (copy) (copy) (copy)

Dominion Energy CEO Thomas Farrell (left) and then-SCANA Corp. CEO Jimmy Addison announced the sale of Cayce-based utility owner in 2018. File/Andy Shain/Staff

The increase would affect electric customers throughout Dominion's service territory in South Carolina, which includes most homes and businesses in Charleston and Columbia. 

Many ratepayers are already frustrated with their monthly power bills from Dominion. A lot of them are still angry about the PSC's decision in late 2018 that allowed Dominion to charge customers another $2.3 billion for two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer plant in Fairfield County that were never completed. 

That abandoned project is the reason that Dominion was able to take control of SCE&G and its parent company, SCANA Corp. SCE&G was the primary owner of the failed project, and the company's future was thrown into doubt when the expansion was canceled three years ago. 

The upcoming rate hike request will be the first time Dominion will ask to raise power bills in South Carolina since that takeover. 

If successful, it would be the first time in eight years that ratepayers will see their power bills increase significantly for something other than the unfinished nuclear project. 

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