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Settlement would reduce Dominion rate increase by almost $8 per month

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A settlement reached Friday in Dominion Energy’s electric rate case before the S.C. Public Service Commission would mean a typical residential rate increase of $1.81 per month and no rate increases for two years.

The net 1.46% rate increase will begin Sept. 1 if the settlement is approved by the PSC.

In August 2020, Dominion filed a rate case requesting a 7.75% rate increase, which would have raised the monthly bill of a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours by an average of $9.68.

The S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff announced the settlement between Dominion and state agencies including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the S.C. Department of Consumer Affairs, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and the Sierra Club, along with Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

“On behalf of ORS, I appreciate everyone’s diligence and persistence in reaching this settlement agreement, which was only made possible thanks to the additional time the Commission afforded us,” Nanette Edwards, ORS executive director, said in a news release.

The settlement also includes a Dominion commitment of up to $30 million in shareholder funds to support customers facing economic hardship, including up to $15 million used to forgive past due balances and $15 million to provide health and safety repairs and energy efficiency upgrades.  

Dominion also agreed not file another general rate case for two years, absent unforeseen circumstances, and to keep its fixed monthly charge under $10, according to the release.

If approved, the settlement would result in a net annual revenue increase of approximately $35.6 million based on a 9.5% return on equity, 51.62% equity capitalization and rate base of $5.75 billion, according to the release. The utility had requested a revenue increase of $178 million and a return on equity of 10.25%.

“We are thankful for the partnership of interested parties involved in this matter,” Carri Grube Lybarker, SCDCA administrator and consumer advocate, said. “We believe the negotiations led to a well-rounded, creative resolution containing consumer-friendly measures that otherwise would not be available through a formal proceeding.”

Rodney Blevins, president of Dominion Energy South Carolina, thanked the parties involved for a “spirit of cooperation, patience and compromise.”

“Reaching a consensus on a comprehensive settlement with all parties is a remarkable achievement and confirms that groups with varied interests can still achieve agreement on matters important to utility regulation in this state while keeping our rates below the national average,” Blevins said. 

In a statement, Knapp called the reduction the largest in a utility rate increase request he’s seen in the last 20 years.

"Small businesses should be assured that they are getting the best outcome possible," Knapp said.

Additional intervening parties included the South Carolina Energy Users Committee, the U.S. Department of Defense and Walmart Inc.

Dominion Energy acquired SCANA Corp. and former subsidiary S.C. Electric & Gas in a $14.6 billion deal approved in December 2018 by the PSC.

Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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