Consumer advocates, energy watchdogs and residential ratepayers joined forces Friday to urge the NC Utilities Commission to ask Progress and Duke Energy to adopt a responsible plan to meet the state’s future energy needs without putting unfair burdens on residential consumers, small businesses and municipalities.
In preparation for a series of public hearings on Progress Energy rate hikes that begin in February, the groups are kicking off a petition and public comment drive where concerned residents can weigh-in on how the proposed rate hikes will affect them:
“I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that an outfit that would pay its CEO $15 million for a morning’s work, and see him out the door with a modest $44 million package, would now demand more blood from the economically beleaguered citizens of North Carolina,” said Gene Nichol, director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. “But I am. No matter how cynical you become about this monopoly, you can’t keep pace.”
“For a growing number of older adults who are strapped with higher out-of-pocket medical costs — an increase in Medicare premiums, and Social Security cost of living increases that aren’t keeping pace with the rising costs of food, gasoline and other day-to-day necessities — utility costs are an issue that is causing great concern,” said Debra Tyler-Horton of AARP North Carolina.
“These are hard-working families trying to keep up with climbing costs,” said Terry Allebaugh, executive director of Housing For New Hope in Durham. “High electric rates are already unaffordable and if Progress or Duke are allowed to increase their rates, it is layering another level of burden upon those already struggling to afford the basic necessities of living. We are especially concerned about energy affordability during high-use periods through the cold weather months.”
Last year, 236,144 Progress and Duke ratepayers had their power shut off for non-payment. Through the end of October this year, there have already been over 200,000 residences disconnected.
Residents concerned about the rising cost of energy in North Carolina can send comments directly to the NC Utilities Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.