SCE&G is asking for another rate hike that, if approved by the Public Service Commission, would mean that our residential electricity rates would have increased by 31 percent over six years.
The primary reason for this significant cost escalation is that years ago SCANA Corp., the parent company of SCE&G, decided to bet on nuclear energy as a major component to its energy portfolio.
Subsequently the costs associated with the two nuclear reactors under construction have ballooned and its customers are being asked to pay for what, in retrospect, was a poor business decision.
That decision is the responsibility of SCANA’s management, board of directors and officers.
Normally in a competitive business environment when a decision leads to much higher costs of operation than expected, the owners and management are called to task. The stock price would reflect lower profitability and the managers would be at risk of losing their jobs.
Of course our utility is not in a competitive environment, and we have no other option for where to get our energy. The arbiter of fairness in discussion of rate increases is our Public Service Commission, which is responsible for “fair and reasonable regulatory outcomes.”
I hope the PSC will consider the following:
• Stock investors in SCANA have enjoyed a steady dividend and increasing stock price during this period of rapid rate increases.
• The CEO of SCANA makes over $5 million a year in total compensation. At least five executives make over $1 million a year.
A fair and reasonable regulatory outcome, in my opinion, would call for a halt to rate increases until stockholders and management of SCANA have shouldered some of the pain from this mess.