Hundreds of upset electricity customers recently attended a series of hearings regarding a massive rate hike proposed by Duke Energy Progress. Hearings took place throughout September and October in Rockingham, Raleigh, Asheville, Snow Hill and Wilmington, with dozens to hundreds of concerned citizens attending at each location.
The N.C. Utilities Commission has yet to approve the 16.7 percent increase for residential customers requested by the energy giant.
In an article by the Wilmington Star News, Wilmington resident Susan Bondurant summed up her frustration: “Nobody is giving me a 16.7 percent increase in my teacher retirement pay each year.” Bondurant estimated that her annual costs would increase by $214.
The requested rate hikes would cover the required cleanup of coal ash at Duke’s sites across the state, as well as the “sunk costs” into a nuclear plant in South Carolina that is unlikely to be completed, and the proposed fracked-gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline — a $5 billion project that could lead the company to increase our bills again in the future.
Hartwell Carson, the French Broad riverkeeper at MountainTrue, said in an article by Mountain Xpress: “While we think Duke should clean up all of their coal ash, we shouldn’t pay for their fight against cleaning it up and we shouldn’t give Duke Energy a blank check for work they haven’t even completed.”
Duke Energy executives also want to nearly double the “fixed charge” — the amount customers pay just to be connected to the grid — from $11.13 to $19.50. This change would disproportionately impact the folks who use the least power and would have an outsized impact on low-wage workers, seniors on fixed incomes and communities of color.
The final evidentiary hearing for the Duke Energy Progress rate hike request will take place on Monday, Nov. 20th at 1 p.m. in Raleigh. At that time, the Utilities Commission will hear expert witness from Duke, public staff, and other relevant parties. North Carolina residents may submit comments to the Utilities Commission until Nov. 19.
Hearings for the same rate increases for Duke Energy Carolinas will occur in January 2018.