Natural Gas FAQs
How are natural gas rates set?
Whenever a regulated natural gas utility company wants to change its rates, it must apply to the South Carolina Public Service Commission for permission. The Office of Regulatory Staff is charged with the duty of investigating the company’s request for rate change (discovery period). During the discovery period, the utility is required to justify all of its expenses for the operations of the company. In the meantime, an expense that the staff determines to be improper or unnecessary is disallowed and thus excluded from the amount the utility is allowed to collect from its customers. Staff also looks at the amount utility stockholders have invested in plant and other facilities and allows a reasonable return on investments necessary to provide quality service. Rates are calculated to produce the amount needed for the approved expenses, plus the authorized return on company’s investment; however, there is no guarantee that the authorized return will be achieved. Upon completion of a hearing on the matter, the commissioners review the record that has been developed and issue a decision at the Commission's regular meeting. The commissioners’ decision determines the level of rates the company will be permitted to collect. Once the final order is issued, the Commission’s decision can be appealed to Circuit Court in South Carolina.
How can I obtain a copy of a company's approved tariffs?
As specified in the Public Service Commission’s rules and regulations, each gas utility must post a notice in a conspicuous place in each office of the gas utility where applications for service are received. This notice will inform the public that copies of the rate schedules and rules relating to the service of the gas utility, as filed with and approved by the Commission, are available for inspection. Additionally, both Piedmont Natural Gas Company and South Carolina Electric and Gas Company have identified on their respective web pages the current rates and charges approved by the Public Service Commission.
How can I obtain a copy of a company's annual report?
Annual reports are considered public records (unless protected under the Commission's confidentiality rules) and may be requested by following the procedure outlined in the Freedom of Information Act page on this web site.
As a consumer, what should I do if I’m not satisfied with my natural gas service?
As a general rule, consumers have the right to file a complaint with a natural gas utility. If you are not satisfied with the company’s response, you may choose to file a complaint with the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff. The Consumer Services Division of the ORS resolves disputes or settles inquiries on an informal basis between customers and investor-owned utilities in South Carolina. You may contact the Consumer Services Division by accessing their consumer complaint/inquiry form.
The Consumer Services Division of the ORS does not have authority to resolve billing disputes or settle inquiries pertaining to natural gas or propane services provided by municipalities, Natural Gas Authorities, or propane operators. If you have a complaint with one of these utility service providers, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs at 1-800-922-1594 may be able to help you.