Molly Moore, Appalachian Voices Editorial Communications Coordinator
molly [at] appvoices.org, 847-401-3633
A new version of a bill backed by Duke Energy would pad the pockets of Duke Energy and its shareholders while having crushing financial implications for families and businesses. The largest section of the bill authorizing “performance based regulation” provides Duke automatic annual rate increases as well as the ability to earn and keep extra profits above their authorized rate of return. Independent analyses have concluded that those provisions alone could cost ratepayers an extra $100 million or more a year.
Additionally, in setting an objective (rather than a requirement) for achieving 70% carbon reductions, the bill grants Duke Energy substantial influence and authority in determining how, and when, that target might be met. Indeed, loopholes written into the bill may delay achievement of that goal by several years.
For these reasons, the prior version of the bill was strongly opposed by North Carolina businesses, racial justice and low-income advocates, environmental groups and clean energy advocates. Little has been changed in the new version that addresses those concerns. North Carolina’s lawmakers must either scrap the bill and demand better, or, at a minimum, amend the bill by deleting the section on performance-based regulation altogether and explicitly mandate the achievement of a 70% carbon reduction by 2030.
“Increasing costs for families and businesses just to give Duke Energy more profits, especially when the only trade-off is that we ‘might’ get to 70% carbon reductions by the end of the decade is bad enough,” said Rory McIlmoil, Senior Energy Analyst for Appalachian Voices. “But doing so at a time when nearly a half a million households served by Duke Energy remain $125 million in debt to the utility as a result of the pandemic is downright immoral and unjust.”
“If Duke’s proposal is approved, hundreds of thousands of low-income families served by Duke Energy will bear the brunt of associated rate increases. We’ve seen this play out in Virginia, but it’s not too late for elected officials in North Carolina to stop the utility company’s money-grab ,” said Tom Cormons, Executive Director of Appalachian Voices.