- Dominion Energy and SCANA Corp. have taken another small step toward completing their merger, reaching an agreement in North Carolina to provide gas customers with bill credits, increase charitable contributions and institute a moratorium on rate increases.
- The settlement with staff of the state Public Service Commission would direct SCANA-owned Public Service Company of North Carolina (PSNC), a gas distribution company, to refund $3.75 million to customers and keep its gas rates stable until April 1, 2021.
- In South Carolina, the deal hinges on whether regulators approve a rate proposal for SCANA-owned South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) that would see customers pay for part of the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project. Public meetings on the merger begin today in South Carolina, and the Public Service Commission will kick off official hearings on the merger and nuclear surcharge Nov. 1.
Dominion and SCANA announced the North Carolina stipulation agreement Friday, saying it marks "significant progress" on the merger, but the real action remains in South Carolina where customers are weighing in and the legislature has significant say.
The South Carolina PSC has been hosting sessions where customers of SCE&G have let their feelings be heard on issues varying from the merger with Dominion, to rate hikes related to the Summer project.
Another meeting will be held Monday in Aiken, South Carolina, and next Monday, Oct. 15, in North Charleston. The South Carolina PSC must make a decision by December on whether to continue collecting a nuclear surcharge. Under the proposed merger with Dominion, the surcharge would stay on bills for two decades to pay for billions in lost construction costs.
SCE&G is seeking regulatory approval to recover about $5 billion in costs associated with the Summer project from ratepayers.
The state is considering eliminating the surcharge and legislators have instituted a temporary rate cut, but Dominion has said if SCE&G's rates are substantially lowered it would walk away from the merger. Instead, Dominion has offered smaller rate cuts and up to $1,000 in rebates to customers. SCANA has reportedly also offered to sweeten the deal.
Dominion has also won the contract to purchase and operate the electric grid at the U.S. Army's Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, helping further align itself with the region. The company has a 50-year service contract with the Army, which values the sale and service at $142 million.
The merger has sign-off from federal regulators, but must still be approved by state commissions in both North Carolina and South Carolina.