ECU rate increase goes into effect on April 1


EASLEY — Easley Combined Utilities (ECU) customers living inside the Easley City limits received a notice in their most recent bill stating that beginning in April a new line item, called a Municipal Fee, will appear on their bill.

The Municipal Fee will equal 5 percent of the amount of the total utility bill, excluding taxes, and will be forwarded to the city of Easley.

For the last 15 years, the City of Easley has collected a fee from ECU at a rate of 3.35 percent of the total bill, but the fee has not been listed as a line item prior to April 1.

Rusty Jones of Trophies Unlimited in downtown Easley has had some concerns over the ECU’s recent rate increases and new line item.

“The city is now asking ECU for 5 percent instead of the 3.35 percent, and they have decided to just add a 5 percent fee to our bills while also raising their rates due to the higher cost of their supplier,” said Jones. “Effectively, ECU is keeping the 3.35 percent that was already built into the rates, adding the 5 percent that the city wants to our bills and then raising their rates to compensate for the new cost of energy. That is over a 10 percent increase in rates and no improvements in quality to their customers.”

According to Florence Belser, general counsel for the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, “Because ECU is not a regulated public utility within the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission or the Office of Regulatory Staff, questions concerning the rates charged by the ECU should be directed to the utility or its governing board.”

The customer service department for ECU said that because they have experienced an increase in costs for their power, this is reflected in the rate increase customers will see on their bills: a 2.24 percent increase in electric rates; a 2.5 percent increase in water rates and a 1.2 percent increase in sewer rates.

When asked why the city of Easley increased fees from 3.35 percent to 5 percent, city administrator, Fox Simons, explained that Easley’s revenue stream has been reduced by $1.5 million over the last few years due to cuts from the state and other revenue streams. The city has reduced its staff by 12 positions to help offset those losses; however, the city’s population has increased 13 percent and the demands on service have increased as well.

“The increase is 1.65 percent,” Simons said, subtracting the old 3.35 percent rate from the new 5 percent rate. “That equates to $1.65 a month on a $100 bill. This has been the first and only increase associated with this fee in the last 15 years.

“The money generated will be used in the budget to help offset some of the aforementioned losses.”

Because ECU is governed by a Commission of Public Works — elected by the citizens — the city of Easley has no authority over ECU’s rate increases.

SC state law authorizes the board of commissioners of public works of any city or town to operate the waterworks and electric light plant, and also provides that the board of commissioners of public works has full control and management of the utility plant, including establishing rates, tolls, and charges.

For questions about the ECU’s rate increases or the municipal fee line item, residents are encouraged to contact customer service at (864) 859-4013 or visit ECU’s website at