COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dominion Energy has agreed to delay its request to raise electric rates in South Carolina for six months because of economic problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Virginia-based utility asked regulators to approve a 7.7% rate hike it said was needed to pay for improvements to the system in the state it bought from SCANA Corp. in 2019. The increase would collect an extra $178 million a year from Dominion’s 750,000 South Carolina customers.
The South Carolina Public Service Commission was holding hearings this month to consider the rate increase. The Office of Regulatory Staff, a state watchdog organization, asked Dominion to put the rate increase on hold.
"We appreciate the commission’s careful attention to this important matter and all parties’ willingness to work collaboratively today," Dominion said in a statement." We look forward to continued collaboration with the parties as we seek to find compromises to reach a resolution to this case. We value the input from all customers who took the time to voice their concerns. We will continue to focus on providing the safe, reliable service they depend on, and as was evidenced by our testimony before the commission. Our dedication to supporting our customers remains stronger than ever. We will continue working with customers, as we do each day, to help connect them to the programs, services and payment options that may be available to help them with their bills."
Dominion merged with SCANA, the parent company of the former SCE&G, and took over that company's duties in providing electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers statewide. At the time, the company agreed to a rate reduction for customers for two years, part of a complex set of pacts the company made in the wake of a failed plan by SCANA and Santee Cooper to build two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County.
In November, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he wanted Dominion to stop its request for a rate increase.
“A sizable rate increase at this difficult time would impose an unexpected and untenable burden on many South Carolinians,” said Gov. Henry McMaster back then. “I simply cannot support Dominion’s application to increase its rates as South Carolinians continue to confront myriad challenges related to COVID-19.”