NC Attorney General Roy Cooper appealed the Duke Energy electric rate hike Wednesday, arguing the company should not raise customer rates to gain a 10.5% profit for its shareholders. This is Duke’s second increase since 2009 and another is anticipated this year.
Duke had originally asked for a 17% increase on rates that would yield an 11.5% return for shareholders. A compromise reached with the Public Staff of the NC Utilities Commission gained Duke a 7% rate hike and the 10.5% shareholder profit. The AG is arguing that the rate of return is not supported by the evidence in the case, especially since the majority of the public testimony opposed the increase as a burden in the current economy.
By the way, did you get a 7% raise last year to offset the hike in your utility bill? According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most workers saw only a 2.1% increase in compensation. Did you have investments that yielded a 10.5 % return in the past few years? Over the past five years, the average return on the stock market per year was less than 3%.
The NC Court of Appeals will hear the case. This appeal should dampen Duke’s expectations for the next increase request. Meanwhile the Duke-Progress merger limps along as the companies attempt to address the concerns of federal and state regulators, shareholders and last but not least – their customers – and never mind to the climate, our air or our water.