The Days of the eWNA Program Could be Numbered

Posted on 11/13/2013 by | AARP South Carolina | Comments

13 Utility meter“AARP listened, AARP intervened, and our AARP members were right,” Teresa Arnold, AARP South Carolina state director.

Friday, November 1 was a landmark day for customers of SCE&G and its electronic Weather Normalization Adjustment  program, (known as eWNA)when the Office of Regulatory Staff called for the termination of this billing program.

“So what is WNA?” Here’s a brief explanation from an SCE&G brochure as to what WNA is and how it works.

“What is WNA?

In years past, extreme cold snaps or heat waves caused your energy costs to spike significantly in a given month. To help take some of that weather-driven volatility out of your electric bill, SCE&G introduced the electric Weather Normalization Adjustment – or WNA – program in August 2010.”

“How does WNA work?

The goal of the WNA is to reduce the effects of extremely hot or cold weather. With WNA, you are charged for the energy you use at a rate that’s adjusted to reflect normal temperatures. “Normal” is based on average temperatures over the past 15 years for a given billing period. Each month, WNA appears on your bill as either an increase or decrease to the cost you’re paying per kilowatt hour of electricity. A minus sign in front of the WNA factor indicates your rate was adjusted down for that bill. A plus sign signifies an upward rate adjustment.”

Confused?

You weren’t alone.  AARP members across the state spoke out at public hearings against the eWNA during SCE&G’s 2012 rate hike case. As an intervener in this particular case, AARP sought help from expert Ralph C. Smith, a CPA and utility regulatory consultant to lead the charge on behalf of consumers.

He noted that customer complaints about the SCE&G eWNA tariff had identified a number of concerns, including the following: Customers did not like the fact that the rate is constantly adjusting, Customers perceived the e-WNA rate as being anti-conservation and Customers perceived monthly e-WNA charges that increase their electric bill as rate increases that can be substantial in a given month.  In his testimony, Smith recommended that eWNA be discontinued.

As a part of the rate hike granted by the SC Public Service Commission, the ORS was charged with studying and finding a solution to the eWNA issue.  AARP knew it was the right thing to do to question the eWNA and get a solution for its members who saw volatile and unpredictable utility bills.

Next Steps

Ultimately, the decision to end this program is up to the state Public Service Commission.  This is a seven member body, elected by the legislature whose mission is to be “A Fair, Open, and Efficient Regulatory Process That Promotes Cost-Effective and Reliable Utility Services.”