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Blue Granite Rate Increases Stopped after Oral Arguments in front of PSC

Wed, 09/02/2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Public Service Commission (PSC) voted Monday that Blue Granite Water Company cannot go forward with its planned rate increase. The action comes after oral arguments were held on August 27, 2020 where the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA), argued in favor of delaying the rate increase due to the broad, negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PSC voiced their appreciation to the quality of the arguments made, and the manner in which the parties clearly described the “untenable situation that Blue Granite’s customers face because of a pending rate increase under bond, while at the same time experiencing the troubling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The directive continued by saying that the increase under bond will be stayed through December 31, 2020.  “If ever there were a time for the PSC to find that increasing utility rates would be unfair or unjust, it is now,” said SCDCA’s Administrator/ Consumer Advocate Carri Grube Lybarker. “We are relieved Blue Granite’s customers will be spared paying additional costs during this unprecedented public health emergency.”  

After an April 2020 PSC order dampened Blue Granite’s rate increase requests, the company planned to implement rate increases under a bond on September 1, 2020. SCDCA submitted a letter to the PSC requesting clarification on the status of the bond request and the company’s ability to charge consumers the announced rates. The letter further detailed the Department’s concerns should Blue Granite be allowed to increase rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PSC’s August 31, 2020 Directive is available here. The letter from SCDCA that initiated oral arguments is available here.

About SCDCA

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs aims to protect consumers from inequities in the marketplace through advocacy, complaint mediation, enforcement and education. To file a complaint or get information on consumer issues, visit www.consumer.sc.gov or call toll-free, 1 (800) 922-1594.