Dominion Energy defends 7.75% rate hike request
By Jerry Bellune
Dominion Energy says its 7.75% rate hike request is needed.
Dominion says its Public Service Commission request "equates to an increase of less than 1% per year for the typical customer since base rates were last adjusted in 2012."
The utility's Public Affairs Manager Rhonda O’Banion said the request will "ensure continued safe, reliable and efficient service to our customers."
She was resoponding to criticism by energy expert Rod Funderburk who called Dominion's proposed SC rate hike "ridiculous."
"The company is asking for approval of a plan to allow it to collect an additional $3.5 million annually over the next 5 years," Funderburk said.
"That will be on top of the $24 million a year it is already spending on contractors, bucket trucks and helicopters with swinging saw blades. Even without viewing the company’s history of rate increases, this rate request seems excessive."
O’Banion said, "Our customers count on us to keep the electricity flowing safely, reliably and efficiently.
"Because current rates do not reflect the true cost of providing service to our growing customer base, an adjustment to rates is critical to our company’s ability to continue to meet this obligation and expectation.
"We have consistently provided customers with the benefits of safe and reliable service, convenient ways of doing business with us, a path toward a clean and sustainable energy future, financial and volunteer support in the community, and increasing assistance for customers struggling financially – all while working more efficiently than ever."
Funderburk of energy consultants Resource Supply Management in Columbia said. "To justify the rate increase, the company is throwing huge numbers at the commission ostensibly covering storm damage, power plant upgrades, tree-trimming expenses, power line improvements and incentive packages for the utility's employees."
If approved the increase would start next March 1.
"Dominion Energy claims to have invested $2.1 billion dollars on new meters, transformers, substations and power lines on behalf of customers over the past 8 years," he said.
"Since 2012, crews hired by SCE&G and Dominion have spent tens of millions of dollars each year trimming limbs, spraying herbicides and cutting dead trees.
"Dominion also wants to be compensated for the 376 miles of electrical lines built to transport electricity out of Fairfield County and toward the coast, which cost roughly $47 million.
"SCE&G and Dominion spent tens of millions of dollars responding to hurricanes and other natural disasters that struck South Carolina over the past 8 years," Funderburk said.
"Dominion wants to charge customers an extra $9.8 million annually over the next 5 years to cover storms that have yet to strike the state."