Contact: Public Affairs
January 13, 2006, Columbia, SC - SCE&G today notified the South Carolina Public Service Commission and the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff that it is reducing the purchased gas portion of customers' bills by 3.6 percent, effective immediately. The adjustment was spurred by a decrease in the cost the company is paying for wholesale gas. The result will be a reduction of a little more than $6 on the monthly bill of a typical customer using 100 therms of natural gas.
The PSC approved the adoption of a monthly "true-up" mechanism at the company's Purchased Gas Adjustment hearing in October. As a part of a settlement agreement with the ORS, SCE&G agreed to defer collection of $14 million in natural gas costs it had already incurred, as well as another $7 million in anticipated future under-collections in an effort to minimize the immediate impact on customers of increases in the cost of gas. SCE&G was instructed to provide data on a monthly basis regarding its purchased gas costs and make adjustments that track with changes to the wholesale cost of gas. SCE&G VP of Gas Operations Marty Phalen said SCE&G's goal is to soften the impact on customer bills this winter as much as possible.
"Hopefully, the recent decrease in wholesale prices will be part of a long-term trend," said Phalen. "The positive trend we’ve seen to this point will probably only continue as long as winter weather remains mild."
In December, SCE&G established a $3 million Winter Assistance Fund to help financially challenged natural gas customers with their heating bills. The funds are being distributed through a partnership with the Governor's Office, Office of Economic Opportunity, and local community action agencies. Only SCE&G natural gas customers are eligible for the funds. Customers who anticipate problems paying their energy bills and meet the government poverty guidelines should call their local community action agency to set up an appointment. Qualified customers whose applications are approved will receive a one-time credit of $250 to their heating bill. Priority will be given to those who are disabled/handicapped or elderly, and to families with young children (ages 5 and under), or households whose energy bills are more than 20 percent of household income. Customers must present their most recent SCE&G bill at the time of application.
South Carolina Electric & Gas Company is a regulated public utility engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to approximately 597,000 customers in 24 counties in the central, southern and southwestern portions of South Carolina. The company also provides natural gas service to approximately 283,000 customers in 34 counties in the state. Information about SCE&G is available on the company’s web site at www.sceg.com.