Utility customers to bear burden of spiking fuel costs in Public Service Commission’s most recent decision
CHARLESTON, S.C. — On Tuesday, South Carolina’s Public Service Commission approved Duke Energy Carolinas’ request to raise utility bills by 10.4%—more than $12 per month for a typical residential customer—to cover skyrocketing fossil fuel costs.
“We are disappointed that the Public Service Commission continues to pass 100% of rising fuel costs to customers without addressing the fundamental problem: heavy reliance on fossil fuel resources exposes customers to substantial cost risk, as opposed to the significantly cleaner, more affordable resources that are available and ready to go,” said Kate Mixson, SELC Staff Attorney.
This decision marks the third time this year that the Public Service Commission has approved utility rate increases due to rising gas costs without addressing its impact on customers and the underlying problem. Indeed, earlier this year the Commission rejected Duke’s attempt to plan for increased renewable energy.
“The risks of relying too heavily on fuel-dependent resources will be visible in customers’ bills during a time when many families already have to make tough financial decisions,” said Megan Chase-Muller, State Policy Director at Upstate Forever. “We hope Duke and Commissioners recognize the impact they have on regular customers burdened with absorbing all of the cost risk for fossil fuels and take steps to prioritize renewables.”
“Our current system puts all the risk on customers. Customers pay for all the gas and coal burned in Duke power plants; the utility’s shareholders do not,” said Maggie Shober, Research Director at SACE. “South Carolinians will continue to be hit with fuel rate increases until the Commission requires utilities to expand affordable clean resources that lower customer bills like energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
“The massive fuel cost increases we are seeing at every utility in South Carolina are a prime example of why smart companies and states are moving towards lower-cost renewable energy” said Eddy Moore, Energy Program Director at the Conservation League. “We hope that when commissioners review the pending request from Dominion Energy for an even greater increase later this fall, they take concrete steps to reduce customer exposure to fossil fuel costs.”
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 200, including more than 100 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. southernenvironment.org
About Coastal Conservation League: Since 1989, the Coastal Conservation League has worked to protect the health of the natural resources of the South Carolina coastal plain and ensure a high quality of life for all of the people who live in and love this special place. The Coastal Conservation League is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Learn more and get involved at www.coastalconservationleague.org.
Since 1985, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible and equitable energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at cleanenergy.org.
Upstate Forever is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of the Upstate of South Carolina. We focus our work on the ten counties of Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union. Since 1998, we have worked to protect the natural assets that make the Upstate so special: our farmlands, forests, natural areas, rivers, and mountains. We are committed to ensuring that our communities are vibrant and retain their green spaces in the face of rapid development and significant sprawl. Upstate Forever has offices in Greenville and Spartanburg. For more information, visit www.upstateforever.org.