Dominion Energy reaches out to future Lowcountry customers

Dominion Energy reaches out to future Lowcountry customers
August 11 12:14 2018 Print This Article

Dominion Energy external affairs representative Kristen Beckham addressed a group at the Lowcountry GOP Breakfast Club Saturday at Kelly’s BBQ near Summerville. The Richmond-based utility is in the process of acquiring the SCANA corporation, the parent company of South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G). Dominion has told South Carolina regulators that it would lower rates 7% immediately and freeze the rates for at least three years. SCE&G increased rates nine times since 2008. Dominion is committed to paying off the debt associated with the failed nuclear reactor project in the Midlands in 20 years versus the 60-year plan currently being pursued by SCE&G.

The merger process cleared a big hurdle on July 31 when more than two-thirds of SCANA shareholders agreed to the terms of the merger. Prior to that, the merger terms were approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Federal Trade Commission. Approval is still needed from the South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and North Carolina and Georgia utility regulators (because SCANA has holdings in those states). Under the terms of the agreement, if the merger were completed today, current SCANA shareholders would realize a 21.5% increase in their share values.

Dominion has agreed to send rebate checks to customers within 90 days of the merger being concluded. A customer with an average bill of $150 per month would receive a $1000 rebate check. Large commercial customers, including government agencies, churches and non-profits would receive larger checks, based on their monthly usage. The State of South Carolina, the largest current SCE&G customer, would receive a $36 million rebate. The total rebate payout of $1.3 billion would be paid for by Dominion shareholders.

Beckham noted that Dominion has been serving South Carolina natural gas customers since 2014. It currently provides electrical power to customers in seven states and natural gas to customers in 19 states. She said expanding into South Carolina’s electrical power market is part of the utility’s long-term growth strategy. “We’re here, and we’re not going away,” Beckham said. “We want a great relationship with the people and the communities we serve.”

Community investment has been a major priority for Dominion since it entered the South Carolina energy market. During the past four years, it has contributed about $750,000 to South Carolina non-profits. Some local beneficiaries include the Lowcountry Food Bank and the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw. The utility has also invested about $750 million in natural gas pipeline and a solar array in the state. Beckham also noted that about 20% of the company’s new hires are military veterans.