Proposed Santee Cooper rate hike would begin next year -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Proposed Santee Cooper rate hike would begin next year

Source: Santee Cooper Facebook page Source: Santee Cooper Facebook page

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Right before the holidays, money is on everyone's mind, including Santee Cooper's. The company is getting ready to decide if it will raise rates.

If Santee Cooper approves a price rate adjustment, that could mean increased rates across all customer groups: residential, commercial, industrial and lighting customers. 

The proposal recommends starting with an increase of an average of 5.3 percent in 2016, 2.1 percent in 2017 and less than 1 percent in 2018. That’s an average of 2.7 percent annually, for a three-year-period.

The average customer pays about $113 dollars a month for power, according to Santee Cooper. Tack on the price hike proposal by the company, and that's $4.50 more a month out of your pocket.

A letter sent to businesses reveals that they would see a greater jump on their bill.

“If this adjustment is approved by the board in December, most customers on this rate schedule will see an increase of 8-12 percent for the first year,” the letter reads. “Additional increases are proposed, but the impact for these is expected to be much less.”

The letter also states that Santee Cooper wants to inform customers of the potential change now to allow time for budgeting in the coming year.

“A 10 percent or 20 percent increase of some utility or service might not sound like a lot but for a small business that's the difference of maybe making your payroll or not making your payroll that month,” said the owner of X-Gym Robby Todoroff.

A rate adjustment is something Santee Cooper has been discussing for about a year.

The price hike would be used to pay for two new nuclear units, increased costs for the company and slower than expected economic growth.

Santee Cooper has not adjusted rates since 2013, and local business owners hope that trend continues.

"I think it's really important to realize how many small businesses will be impacted,” said Gerry Leighton, the owner of Camp Bow Wow. “Were a seasonal town so sometimes it's tough to have a business in a town that runs on tourism, so it definitely makes a difference to those of us who are in town year round who are trying to provide services for the community."

Both Leighton and Todoroff mentioned how if rates are increased in their power bill, they would have to cut expenses elsewhere, which could impact the staff.

Santee Cooper did open up a public comment period over the summer.

In order for this to take place, the board would have to approve the adjustment at their meeting, December 7th.  If approved it would go into effect April, 2016.

Click the link to view a sample letter in PDF format of the one sent to businesses about Santee Cooper’s proposed rate increase (31KB).

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