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How are water/wastewater rates set?

Whenever a regulated water or wastewater 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 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.

What other agencies regulate water and wastewater utilities?

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC)

South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (SCLLR)

Who should I call concerning an unpleasant or unusual odor in my neighborhood?

Please contact your district office of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environ mental Control (SCDHEC) Office of Environmental Quality Control.

As a consumer, what should I do if I’m not satisfied with my water/wastewater service?

As a general rule, consumers have the right to file a complaint with a water/wastewater 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 (not municipally operated) in South Carolina. You may contact the Consumer Services Division by accessing their consumer complaint/inquiry form.