SCE&G Says Costs Require Rate Hike

About 9,000 South Carolina Electric and Gas Company customers in Beaufort and Jasper Counties use natural gas to heat their homes, but this winter they could be paying more for that heat. That's because SCE&G has requested permission from the Public Service Commission to increase natural gas prices by 14 percent, something the company says is necessary.

"Natural Gas prices are trending upwards, so it's a direct pass-through cost to customers. It does not contribute to our company's earnings," said Christy Farrell of SCE&G public relations.

SCE&G says the increase in natural gas prices is due to the decrease in production, as well as the threat of war. For the average natural gas customers, this 14 percent increase means an additional $13.20 each month during the heating season, from November till February. The increase upsets many customers.

"Being a typical customer, I hate to see it because so many other things are rising too," SCE&G customer Lisa Alkier.

"I originally had electric in my house and went to natural gas because of the prices of natural gas a few years ago," said Samuel Murray. "Now the price keeps going up."

And for many, like Tonia Simmons, this increase is a financial burden. Simmons lives with her grandparents in Port Royal and says conserving heat is not an option. So, she's looking to cut other costs.

If the Public Service Commission approves SCE &G's request, customers will be seeing the 14 percent increase on next month's bill. The commission is expected to make its decision at the beginning of November.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey