SCANA Corp. principal subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G) Friday filed with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSC) for a 0.87% overall increase to its retail natural gas base rates.

The rate hike, if approved, would provide for a 1.48% increase in residential customer rates; 0.62% hike for small/medium commercial customers, and a 0.48% hike for large commercial/industrial customers. If the request is approved, SCE&G estimated that residential customers would pay around $13.59 more a year for gas service based on average annual usage. SCE&G serves 305,000 customers in South Carolina.

SCE&G is filing for the adjustment under terms of the state’s Natural Gas Rate Stabilization Act. The statute, which took effect in 2005, is designed to reduce customer rate volatility by allowing regulated utilities to recover the costs they incur to expand, improve and maintain gas service infrastructure. The law also works to reduce customer rates when increased revenues cause a utility’s earnings to exceed the return-on-equity range authorized by the PSC, SCE&G stated.

The information supporting SCE&G’s filing first would be reviewed by the state’s Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS). Once the ORS completes an audit report, anticipated by Sept. 1, the report would be forwarded to the PSC, which would review the filing and audit. An order is expected by October. If approved, the rate adjustment likely would take effect with the first billing cycle of November 2008, according to SCE&G.

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