Trying to ease customer anger over a rate hike announced soon after a cold snap sent bills skyrocketing, SCANA said Thursday it’s preparing to give back $25 million to customers instead of shareholders in a move experts say is unusual.
The Cayce-based energy giant set aside $25 million of its first-quarter revenue to give a credit on customers’ bills — a move that reduced first-quarter earnings by more than 10 percent.
“This is a very unusual event,” said Howard Silverblatt, a senior analyst with Standard & Poor’s in New York. “(If) I’m a shareholder, ‘Why are you giving away $25 million of my money?’ ”
Still, SCANA made money in the quarter. Earnings rose 11.4 percent over a year ago, the company reported Thursday. Energy use spiked in the January cold spell and its customer base grew by 1.1 percent in the quarter — almost more than in all of 2009.