Virtual Hearing at the SC PSC

A first for me! I had a virtual hearing before the SC Public Service Commission this afternoon. To maintain the appropriate distances from each other during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commissioner, parties, and counsel participated by telephone or Skype. It worked well. The witness was sworn, and a transcript was taken; everything was normal except that we were not in the same room. The Commissioners were in their offices or homes. Jenny Pittman and Thomas McGill, appearing for ORS, participated from their offices; my client was in Greenville, and I was at an undisclosed secret location. Maybe this how things will be for the coming weeks. I am grateful for the opportunity to work, and excited to see the PSC adapt to these uncertain times. Stay safe, everyone!

Senate Democrats ask for utility rate relief

The Greenwood Index Journal reports that a group of Democratic Senators have asked Governor McMaster to order the Public Service Commission to hold an emergency hearing to adjust utility rates. The request was made in a letter sent to the Governor by Senators Floyd Nicholson, Margie Bright-Matthews, Brad Hutto and Dick Harpootlian.

Also, during the “virtual public hearing” held on Palmetto Utilities’ pending rate case, Senator Mia McLeod and Representative Ivory Thighpen called on the Commission to put a hold on the company’s pending rate case due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PUI filed a motion to stay all proceedings in the rate case for 60 days yesterday evening.

Terreni Law Firm – COVID-19 Policies

Having received COVID-19 policy statements from companies, vendors, government agencies, and some folks we’ve never heard of, I thought it would be a good idea for the Terreni Law Firm, LLC to update clients and colleagues on the steps we’re implementing during this pandemic. We hope you will find them reassuring.

  • The office will remain open, 9ish every morning, until we run out of toilet paper.
  • I almost cut my hair, but decided to let my freak flag fly.
  • We’ve gone to “Corona Casual” dress.
  • All commuting will be done with the top down whenever possible so as to avoid the potential of confined exposure to the virus.
  • Not sending faxes to eliminate that source of transmission.
  • Our crack investigators, Starsky and Hutch, remain on the job.
  • The firm fitness program has transitioned to a Coerver based curriculum.
  • We pray daily that everyone stays safe and healthy.

SC PSC Considers Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

In its business meeting of March 18, 2020 at 2:30 pm the SC Public Service Commission has scheduled consideration of measures in response to the Corona virus epidemic, including:

  • Suspension of disconnection of customers for non-payment for all regulated utilities (this item was requested by the Governor in his news conference of 3/16/2020
  • Requesting the parties in two pending water and wastewater cases to waive the six-month deadline for adjudication, and suspend implementation of any increases that may be granted.
  • Requesting a stay of the pending rate cases from the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and the Public Utilities Review Committee.
  • Expedited consideration of Dominion Energy’s request for permission to waive late fees for its customers.
  • To see the full COVID-19 Supplemental Agenda, click here.

PSC Moves to Hold Public Hearing in a Virtual Format to Keep Consumers Safe

With the COVID-19 virus causing disruption in South Carolina, the Public Service Commission elected to reschedule their public night hearing in Docket No. 2019-281-S from March 12th to March 19th. The PSC postponed this meeting in order to gather more information on the rapidly-evolving situation involving the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 and to put in place technological updates to ensure the safety and security of meeting attendees. Instead of a traditional night hearing, which gathers dozens and sometimes hundreds of people together in one space, this week’s public night hearing will be a “virtual hearing.” What this means for you: if you’re interested in speaking at this night hearing, you’ll call in to the following number:

803-896-2639

Until 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 18th, consumers must call this number and leave their name, physical address, and telephone number to be pre-registered to testify. Once you’re registered, you’ll be able to call in to the conference line at 888.612.1053 on Thursday afternoon and will be queued to speak in the order you signed up in. When it’s your turn to talk, you can think speak to Commissioners for up to three minutes—everything else about the public night hearing will be unchanged from a usual night hearing. If you need a refresher on that process, please review the PSC’s guide at www.bit.ly/PSCHearingsGuide.

We’ll be broadcasting, as we do all meetings, hearings, and briefings, a livestream through our partnership with SCETV at this link. If you’re just interested in listening along to the meeting, you can also call 800.410.4177.

We appreciate your patience as we test out this new capability—the safety of the public is our first concern, and moving to a virtual platform allows us to ensure that safety while still making sure we heard from those affected by ongoing issues in the utility economy of our state.

For more information, please contact the PSC at 803.896.5100 and follow SC Utility Consumer on Twitter and Facebook for important updates. You can also follow DHEC’s COVID-19 monitoring site at this link to receive the most comprehensive and current information on this outbreak.