Santee Cooper holds public comment meetings for rate increase

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) WMBF News is following new details that could impact your electric bill. It's officially summer now and if you plan on turning on your AC, be prepared to pay more, as your rate could be going up.

Santee Cooper wants to push up the price on your electricity bill by almost four percent. Representatives with the company say it's not their fault, but the government's. The Environmental Protection Agency is bringing in about five new electrical regulations that they say will cost them hundreds of millions to keep up with.

They say those costs, will have to be passed down to you. But you won't be the only one bearing the burden. The proposed rate increase pretty much affects all area Santee Cooper customers-- from 160,000 people using electricity in their homes to businesses.

Representatives with Santee Cooper say these increases don't come that often.

"We do not make any kind of rate adjustments unless it's absolutely necessary," said Nicole Aiello with Santee Cooper. "As a matter of fact our last rate adjustment was in 2009 and it had been 13 years prior to that since we made any kind of adjustment."

You won't see the increase on your bill just yet. If this rate is approved, it will hit your bill in December.

"It'll make a difference," said customer Jackie Sinnet. "Every penny counts, but we're a captive audience. I mean you know we have to have our power so we're going to pay what they charge . But I don't know if, what much can we do about that."

But Santee Cooper officials want to hear from you before the rate increase will actually happen. If you have something to say about the proposed rate increase, today is the day to speak up.

Santee Cooper starts off a string of public comment meetings Thursday evening to let you know they're asking for more money. During these public comment meetings, all the comments from customers will be documented and sent to the board of directors. Then when it's time for the board to vote on the increase in August, they say they'll factor your opinions into the decision.

There will be about five meetings in different counties-- Horry, Georgetown, and Berkeley counties. The first one will be held in Conway at the Santee Cooper office, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.