Ratepayers fight back against utility’s proposed rate hike
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Dozens of customers are fighting back against a proposed rate increase for a water and sewer utility in South Carolina.
Two public hearings are being held this week to discuss a request by Blue Granite Water Company to increase rates for water services by about 45% and sewer services by over 55%, news outlets reported.
Reese Hannon, a representative for Blue Granite, said after a hearing Monday in Lexington the increase is needed because the costs of the materials and services it uses are increasing and they need to improve the system’s infrastructure.
“Since the last rate case, we’ve invested $23 million roughly across the state,” Hannon said.
Ratepayers said they already pay enough. The utility last raised rates in 2018, news outlets reported.
One man who spoke at the hearing called the rate increase “VC Summer 2.0,” referring to the failed nuclear reactor project that lost billions of dollars.
Others questioned how customers can be certain the rate increase is necessary.
State lawmakers have also voiced their opposition to the proposed increase.
“The people that have paid these rates for over 40 years with good faith that the infrastructure’s going to be taken care of and it hasn’t,” Republican Rep. Chris Wooten said. “And now they want to raise the rates to fix the infrastructure that’s been denied for the past 40 years, and we’re supposed to have faith in the company.”
A second public hearing on the proposal was scheduled for Thursday evening at the Irmo Municipal Building.
The rate increase proposal goes before the South Carolina Public Service Commission for approval this spring, according to news outlets.