Difficult times require informed, responsive plans. The Public Service Commission has been working on a response to the coronavirus outbreak that will ensure the safety of the public and the continuance of the agency’s mission.
On March 19th, Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference to update the public on South Carolina’s response to the outbreak of COVID-19. Among his pronouncements was a request that all nonessential state employees work from home when possible, while still maintaining the function of governmental agencies.
On March 18th, the Public Service Commission, during their weekly Commission Business Meeting, discussed a series of directives pertaining to the agency’s COVID-19 response. These actions included:
- Chairman Randy Randall moving to grant waivers of the regulations related to late payment charges and the procedures for termination of services, to apply to all regulated utilities.
- Chairman Randall moving to direct all regulated utilities to suspend the disconnection of service during the State of Emergency declared during the outbreak.
- Chairman Randall moving to request that Palmetto Utilities, Inc. and Blue Granite Water Company voluntarily stay all deadlines related to SC Code Ann. 58-5-240, including the six-month deadline for issuance of final orders, thus staying all increases in service charges related to Docket Nos. 2019-281-S and 2019-290-WS.
- The Commission filed a letter to Governor Henry McMaster, the President of the South Carolina Senate, the Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, the Chairmen of the South Carolina Senate and House Judiciary Committees, the Members of the Public Utilities Review Committee, and the Chairmen of the Senate and House LCI, requesting to delay statutory deadlines for issuance of Orders for pending rate cases.
The Public Service Commission will not cease operating during this State of Emergency, and we’ll keep our focus on our mission while we weather this crisis together. This means our office will not close so we can better serve critically-important utility providers and the public of South Carolina. There will be some changes in Commission procedure during this state of emergency, which are outlined below:
- We have suspended physical hearing appearances, with the exception of legal counsel, until further notice. Hearings will go on as scheduled, but will pivot to being held online whenever possible.
- Commission Business Meetings, which take place at 2 p.m. each Wednesday, will continue to be held; you can livestream these weekly meetings from the security and convenience of your home at this link.
- Filers are encouraged to use the e-filing services provided through the Commission’s Docket Management System whenever possible.
- Documents, including applications for transportation companies and confidential information for ongoing dockets, can still be delivered to the Commission office (101 Executive Center Drive, Suite 100, Columbia, SC 29201).
- The Commission’s Docket Management System is available for the public’s use 24/7.
Other Commission events, including public night hearings, allowable ex parte briefings, and regular meetings may be, at the Commission’s discretion, either rescheduled or moved to a virtual format. Our full calendar is posted at this link—as events are postponed or rescheduled, this calendar will be updated.
For more information, please contact Director of Public Information Rob Bockman at 803.896.5142 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the PSC on Twitter (@PSCofSC) or Facebook and the SC Utility Consumer public outreach brand on Twitter (@UtilityConsumer) and Facebook for updates. Stay safe during this public crisis, and practice considerate and responsible practices—including staying home whenever possible, washing your hands frequently and disinfecting surfaces regularly, and tracking and reporting any symptoms of the virus that you may experience. DHEC’s website is a superb resource for tracking the outbreak and learning more about safe practices; you can also follow DHEC on Facebook and Twitter for updates.