SCE&G rates

Jack Grados, of the Cedar Creek community south of Aiken, adjusts the thermostat of his home. Grados said his energy bill substantially increased despite using less power in January due to record warmth.

SCANA Corp., parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas, paid its top five executives $13.06 million in base salary, stock options and other perks in 2015.

Chief Executive Officer Kevin Marsh was the top earner, taking home $5.7 million in total compensation in 2015, according to SCANA's 2016 proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC.

The 2017 proxy statement likely won't be filed until sometime next month.

Marsh's salary has risen 13.3 percent since 2012, when he earned $4.97 million and more than 75 percent since 2010, when his total compensation stood at nearly $2 million.

Marsh was a senior vice president before becoming CEO in 2011, according to the report.

Four other executives – Jimmy Addison, executive vice president and chief financial officer; Stephen Byrne, executive vice president, and senior vice presidents Ronald Lindsay and Keller Kissam – earned at least $1.12 million in total compensation, according to SEC documents.

A sixth executive who retired in January 2016 also earned more than $1 million in total compensation.

Former senior vice president G.J. Bullwinkel Jr. earned $1.34 million in 2015, which included $138,462 in base salary, a $500,000 bonus and $690,169 in "all other compensation," documents show.

Bullwinkel's annual base salary had been $480,000 the previous two years. None of the other five executives received bonuses in 2015.

Bullwinkel's bonus was based on "his leadership and efforts to sell two of our subsidiaries for a combined sales price of approximately $650 million," the SEC report says.

SCANA spokeswoman Ginny Jones said via email that executives are compensated according to goal-based performance plans.

She said SCANA officers actually earn 2 percent less than the utility industry median and 9 percent less than the general industry median.

"The types of compensation programs offered by our company are the same as those offered by other utilities," Jones said.

SCANA in its SEC report said "comparative market information" is used to determine executive pay.

"We want to attract and retain highly skilled and talented senior executive officers who have the ability to carry out our short- and long-term goals," the report states.

SCANA earnings come to light at a time when South Carolina gas customers filed several complaints concerning SCE&G's "weather normalization adjustment," or WNA, a fee which caused a spike in residential gas bills despite declining usage.

The WNA is highly dependent on the weather and rises significantly during warm spells, such as in January when there was record warmth. Jones said there are no plans to change the WNA.

The WNA has generated a surge in complaints. Fifty-five, including 17 from Aiken County, have been filed in 2017, said Dukes Scott, executive director of the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff.

Aiken resident Stanley Ostrawski said his gas bill rose $3 in February despite energy usage dropping from 61 to 52 therms.

Ostrawski thinks there should be greater competition in the marketplace, which he said would yield more reasonable rates.

"I'd like to buy my electricity from Santee Cooper, but I'm not allowed to," he said. "If I could run a cable all the way up to Duke, I would to get electricity cheaper."

Aiken resident Bill Ward, who lodged an official complaint with the ORS earlier this month, said he thinks SCANA executive compensation seems excessive in the wake of surging costs.

"$5.7 million seems pretty high," Ward said of the CEO's compensation. "That's probably going to irritate a lot of people. I hope we get more and more people to take the time to file a complaint to the regulatory commission."

SCANA corporate earnings also come in the wake of SCE&G enacting at least nine electric rate increases since 2009 to help cover funding shortfalls associated with the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant in Jenkinsville, which won't be finished until 2020.

SCANA has 55 percent ownership of V.C. Summer while Santee Cooper has 45 percent ownership.