SCE&G customers on Boundary Street could see 7 percent increase on bills

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 20, 2014 

About 160 customers along Boundary Street in Beaufort could see an additional 7 percent tacked onto their utility bills to pay for putting wires underground.

The project is part of the $26.3 million Boundary Street realignment and redesign that the city is undertaking. Work is expected to begin as early as July, according to city officials.

S.C. Electric and Gas will pay for the $2.9 million project and be reimbursed through the "special franchise fee district," according to a release from the city.

The district would include customers along Boundary Street between Neil and Ribaut roads.

City Council will vote on the district and related issues during a special meeting 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 1911 Boundary St.

The special district is allowed under the terms of a 1999 franchise agreement between the city and SCE&G, according to the release. City Council may create special franchise fee districts with up to a 7 percent additional fee for up to a decade. The project must affect at least 25 SCE&G customers.

The fee wouldn't begin until after the utilities are moved underground, which would take between 6 and 12 months.

"This is the best and least costly way to eliminate the unsightly and potentially dangerous overhead power lines along the Boundary Street right-of-way," Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said in the news release. "It's going to be the first of many pieces that will beautify the western entrance to the City."

The project is part of a master plan approved in 2006 to narrow lanes on Boundary Street, insert medians with plants, and add sidewalks and bike paths.

The Boundary Street project is being paid for with a $12.6 million federal grant and $13.7 million in local funds. The grant provides $3 million for land acquisition for the parallel road and along Boundary Street.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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