SC: Major utility seeks higher customer charges, new DG fees


Santee Cooper, a state-owned utility serving approximately 172,000 retail customers, has proposed a three-year rate plan — including higher fixed charges and new DG surcharges — to pay for continued nuclear construction costs and slower-than-expected load growth. Santee Cooper is the primary source of power distributed by the state’s 20 electric cooperatives to all 46 counties. Its rate proposal includes the following tariff revisions for retail customers:

  • For Residential General Service (RG), raising the monthly customer charge from $14.00 to $17.00 in 2016, to $19.50 in 2017, and to $21.00 in 2018, with lower kWh rates in 2017 and 2018.
  • For Commercial General Service (GA), raising the monthly customer charge from $18.00 to $21.00 in 2016, to $25.00 in 2017, and to $27.50 in 2018, with lower kWh rates by 2018.
  • Creating a new DG rider (DG-16) that would apply to all retail customers, with residential DG system sizes capped at 20 kW and non-residential systems capped at 1 MW. Santee Cooper stated that residential customers have had a NEM option since 2007, so this tariff would expand NEM to commercial and industrial customers. However, customer bills would include (1) a metering charge, (2) a standby or demand charge (i.e., if a customer currently has a demand rate, they will not pay the standby charge too), (3) energy charges for net consumption, and (4) energy credits from generation above on-site load. The customer’s minimum bill is equal to the customer charge + the monthly metering charge + relevant standby charges or demand charges. If the customer over-generates to the point of falling below the minimum bill, excess credits would be carried forward (if under $50.00) or reimbursed (if over $50.00). Customers would retain RECs.

In 2016, a residential customer under Schedule DG-16 would pay all of the following: (1) a $17.00 monthly customer charge, (2) a $9.00 monthly metering charge, (3) a monthly charge equal to $4.70/kW of installed capacity, and (4) and a base energy charge of $0.1002/kWh or $0.1202/kWh, varying by season. The customer would receive an energy credit of $0.0389/kWh for kWh generated during the summer season and $0.0381/kWh for kWh generated during the non-summer season. Santee Cooper proposed a similar plan as an interim tariff that would take effect in September 2015.

Public comments may be submitted online or via mail, or during a series of public meetings held through August 27. Santee Cooper’s board is scheduled to vote on the proposal on December 7.