SCE&G has proposed a 6.61 percent rate increase that could affect the electric utility's 660,000 customers in South Carolina, including those in Beaufort County.
The proposal is subject to approval by the S.C. Public Service Commission, which will review the request in late November and likely make a decision in December. If approved, the new rates are expected to take effect in January.
Company spokesman Eric Boomhower said the rate increase is needed to keep up with regulatory costs and transmission-system upgrades.
The impact on consumers, however, could be blunted as SCE&G may be able to pass along savings in other areas, he said.
Boomhower said the utility will seek state approval to reduce the amount it charges consumers for natural gas and other power-plant fuels this fall, rather than waiting until spring. If approved, those savings could reduce the maximum rate increase to 4.85 percent.
The company last received a base rate increase in 2010.
The utility serves about 45,500 customers in Beaufort and Jasper counties. Most of its Beaufort County customers are in the northern part of the county.
The Public Service Commission held its first hearing on the rate hike Wednesday in Aiken. Subsequent hearings are scheduled for Nov. 5 in Charleston and Nov. 27 in Columbia.
Attempts Wednesday to reach a commission spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.