SCE&G asks for another rate hike to pay for nuclear units

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. filed for a rate increase Friday to help offset construction costs of two new nuclear units north of Columbia.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. wants to raise electric rates an overall 2.78 percent to help pay for new nuclear units being built north of Columbia.

The Cayce-based utility, part of SCANA Corp., filed for the increase Friday with the S.C. Public Service Commission and the state Office of Regulatory Staff.

The $70 million-a-year request is part of a 10-year series of price hikes expected annually through 2018 to offset the $10 billion costs of building two units at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County.

The new units will come online at the end of the decade. SCE&G jointly owns the nuclear power plant with state-owned utility Santee Cooper of Moncks Corner.

Paying financing costs while construction is ongoing, as opposed to waiting until the project has been completed, lowers the cost of the new units by about $1 billion, according to SCE&G.

The investor-owned utility estimates the pay-as-you-build plan will save customers about $4 billion in electric rates over the life of the new units.

If approved, the monthly bill for a residential customer would rise 2.8 percent, or $4.01, for every 1,000 kilowatts of power used, to $149.88. That’s just over $48 a year.

Commercial and industrial customers would also see their bills go up.

The rate hike would take effect in October if approved. SCE&G serves about 692,000 electric customers across South Carolina. About half are in the Charleston area.

Rates for SCE&G customers have jumped 14 times over the past seven years. Seven of those were connected to the nuclear units. The others were general rate hikes.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.