Santee Cooper to consider higher rates

Santee Cooper's headquarters in Moncks Corner.( Leroy Burnell/

State-owned utility Santee Cooper is considering raising electric rates for the first time since 2009.

The Moncks Corner-based utility’s board heard recommendations from staff today to look into a new rate schedule for its 164,000 customers in Berkeley, Georgetown and Horry counties as well as the 30 industries it serves.

The proposal before the board has an average rate increase of 3.5 percent starting Dec. 1 of this year, and another 3.5 percent increase starting Dec. 1, 2013.

What that means for an average customer using 1,000 kilowatts per month is a $5.60/mo. increase starting in December of this year, and a $8.29/mo. increase starting in December 2013.

Santee Cooper is expected to set up public hearings throughout the summer on the proposed rate increases before adopting them in early fall.

The higher rates will help pay for new environmental regulations to produce electricity and two new 1,117-megawatt nuclear units Santee Cooper is building north of Columbia in conjunction with South Carolina Electric & Gas Co.