How are water/wastewater rates set?
A regulated water/wastewater utility wanting to change its rates, must apply to the PSC.
What is the the ORS’ role?
The ORS will investigate the company’s request for rate change through asking the utility to justify all of its expenses for the operations of the company.
Any expenses that the the ORS determines to be improper or unnecessary is disallowed and excluded from the amount the utility is allowed to collect from its customers.
The ORS reviews the amount utility stockholders have invested in plant and other facilities and allows a reasonable return on investments necessary to provide quality service.
Rates are calculated to produce the amount needed for the approved expenses, plus the authorized return on company’s investment; however, there is no guarantee that the authorized return will be achieved.
What happens after the Hearing?
After the hearing on the matter, the PSC reviews the information presented by the ORS and other parties in the case and issues a decision at the Commission's regular meeting. The commissioners’ decision determines the level of rates the company will be permitted to collect. Once the final order is issued, the Commission’s decision can be appealed to Circuit Court in South Carolina.
Can a customer participate in a Hearing?
Yes. Learn how to participate in the hearing process.
How can I obtain a copy of a company's annual report?
Annual reports are considered public records (unless protected under the Commission's confidentiality rules) and may be requested by following the procedure outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.
What other agencies regulate water and wastewater utilities?
Who should I call concerning an unpleasant or unusual odor in my neighborhood?
Please contact your district office of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) Office of Environmental Quality Control.
As a consumer, what should I do if I’m not satisfied with my water/wastewater service?
As a general rule, consumers have the right to file a complaint with a water/wastewater utility. If you are not satisfied with the company’s response, you may choose to file a complaint with the ORS. ORS Consumer Services resolves disputes or settles inquiries on an informal basis between customers and investor-owned utilities (not municipally operated) in South Carolina. You may contact ORS Consumer Services by accessing their consumer complaint/inquiry form.
Why do you have to pay for drinking water?
There are costs involved in providing drinking water to residential customers. Residential water usage studies have shown that typical water consumption by a residential customer within the home is:
41% for flushing toilets
34% for bathing
21% for laundry and washing dishes
4% for drinking water and use in the kitchen Costs of water supply
There are costs related to obtaining the water supply for residential consumption. The water used in your home can be taken from the ground, which requires wells to be drilled, or obtained from storage facilities and purchased from water suppliers such as municipalities. Water must be pumped from the ground or lakes. This process requires pumps, pipes, maintenance, knowledgeable personnel, etc. before it reaches your home. Water must be treated with chemicals to meet requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) and its amendments in 1996. Water quality tests must be performed to ensure that your water meets these requirements. Water must be transmitted from its source (wells, lakes, etc.) and then distributed to residential customers through pipelines. A water provider has administrative costs associated with monitoring customer usage (meters), billing, and collecting from customers. There are costs to the water supplier associated with obtaining debt financing to purchase necessary equipment to provide safe drinking water. Water suppliers have costs associated with replacing equipment, extending systems to serve new customers, making necessary improvements, and handling the day-to-day operation and maintenance of their systems. Private (investor-owned) water suppliers require a rate of return component for monetary contributions made by stockholders and owners.