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Groups launch drive to keep electricity affordable

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 www.statements@ncuc.net.

6 Comments

  1. Frank Burns

    December 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    The best thing we can do to keep electric rates down is quit listening to Advocacy Groups. They demanded that Duke shut down some older coal units and they continue to insist we trade off fossil fuels for wind and solar. Each of these items on their “green” wish list has a cost which is passed on to the rate payers.

    We have to remain vigilant against them as they also want a carbon tax applied to power plants fueled on coal.

  2. Alex

    December 15, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I said several years ago when Obama started the “war on coal” the inevitable result would be much higher utility costs on every consumer. What can I say ?

  3. david esmay

    December 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Alex, what can you say? Nothing. Nothing you say has any merit and your cosmic doppelganger Frank isn’t any better. We have to rid ourselves of our dependency on fossil fuels. The best way to do that is to use the same method we used to get to the moon. Fund research and devote our resources, technology and brightest minds to finding alternatives with the same fervor we applied to the Apollo missions. It would be the best investment in our future we ever made. The GOPers are always looking backward and when they try to look forward, can’t see past the end of their collective noses.

  4. Frank Burns

    December 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    David,
    Why? With large reserves of coal, there is no reason to stop burning coal, especially if the goal is keep electric costs down.

  5. Alex

    December 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I hate to say it david ,but you’re living in a dreamworld if you think alternative energy can provide our energy needs in the next 20 years. For every coal plant we close, India and China build two more so the net effect on global emissions is zero. The problem with solar is storage, and the problem with wind is distribution, and neither works without heavy subsidies. We can’t pay our bills now, so don’t expect any huge investments in anything. Face the reality david that we are broke, and you’ll be a lot better off.

  6. traye

    December 16, 2012 at 9:21 am

    We demand low electricity costs! Now!

    We demand expensive solar and wind! Now!