As Commissioners, one of our most vital duties is to ensure that the ratepayers have a say in the deliberations that will determine what they pay for their utilities. To make sure your voice is heard, and that your experiences are considered, we host periodic public night hearings at which attendees are encouraged to share their opinions about the services provided by utility companies.
In March, we’ll be hosting two of these public night hearings on the 12th and 19th in Docket No. 2019-281-S, relating to Palmetto Utilities, Incorporated’s request for a rate increase for sewer service in Richland and Kershaw Counties. At 6 p.m. on Thursday March 12th and Thursday, March 19th, we’ll be at Spring Valley High School (120 Sparkleberry Lane, Columbia, SC, 29229) and we hope to see you there.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a public hearing: essentially, this is your opportunity to speak before the Commission without interruption—we won’t be able to answer questions, but Commissioners or representatives of the involved parties may ask follow-up questions after you speak. Night hearings are official testimony, similar to that heard during our cases, and so all comments given will be under oath and recorded by our court reporter.
The process is simple: all attendees are required to sign in upon arrival. As you do so, you’ll be able to write “Yes” or “No” in a box, determining whether your name is added to our list of speakers. If you select “Yes,” your name will be called during the hearing in the order in which you signed up. You’ll then approach the podium, be sworn in by a representative of the Commission, and will have three minutes to share your thoughts. If you bring documents—for example, utility bills—you may be asked to turn those over to the Commission, who will enter those documents as exhibits in the docket. Transcripts of the hearings will be posted in the docket–available on the PSC’s Docket Management System–so you’ll be able to review your testimony at your convenience. Our goal in hosting these night hearings is to gather consumer feedback that will be incorporated into our decision-making processes during the hearings later in the month and to make sure you, the ratepayer, are able to participate.
If you’re looking for a quick guide to speaking at public night hearings, just type bit.ly/PSCHearingsGuide into your web browser to review our handbook. You can visit our website at www.psc.sc.gov to see upcoming public night hearings, as well as all other briefings, hearings, and meetings scheduled for the Commission. If you have questions about the process or would like further information, we encourage you to reach out to us on Twitter at either @PSCofSC or @UtilityConsumer or find us on Facebook at Public Service Commission of South Carolina and SC Utility Consumer.