Commentary

Charlotte Observer does the math: What the Utilities Commission should say to Duke’s rate increase request

In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer has an interesting take on the Duke Energy Carolinas rate increase request. The editorial does the math and explains why the proposed 17 percent increase should be pared to 2.6%. Here’s the conclusion:

“Duke wants to raise bills by $647 million per year. About $336 million of that is to clean up decades of coal ash storage that culminated in one of the nation’s worst spills, into the Dan River four years ago Friday. The company knew its ash was a potential hazard for years. Shareholders, not customers, should pay for Duke’s decision to deal with its waste in the cheapest, not most responsible, way possible all this time.

Subtract the $336 million and Duke’s remaining request is at $311 million.

Much of that money can come from the tax cut the company is about to enjoy courtesy of Congress and President Trump. The Utilities Commission’s Public Staff estimates that Duke will save about $210 million per year on its federal tax bill going forward. Duke made its request months before the tax bill passed and that money should go straight to the company’s needed $647 million.

Put the $210 million toward Duke’s after-coal-ash total of $311 million and Duke’s request stands at $101 million.

Utilities commissioners should dissect Duke’s request and, if found to be warranted, grant that $101 million hike. That would result in an increase on the typical residential bill of about 2.6 percent or about $35 per year. That’s an amount that both Duke and the average customer could live with.

One other needed change: As part of its request, Duke wants to raise the fixed charge on bills from $11.80 per month to $17.79 per month, a jump of more than 50 percent. The economics don’t justify that, and it would be an especially large burden on the low-income customers who, incidentally, typically use less electricity.

Duke has provided reliable electricity at relatively low cost for years. It has made a lot of money, too. The Utilities Commission should maintain that balance.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

One Comment


  1. Nancy

    February 2, 2018 at 2:01 am

    Good work by the CLT Observer! Coal ash was a business decision not a Consumer Exprnse. As a matter of fact, Duke Energy looked at the Coal Ash disposal system that they created as efficient & cheap- not in the Consumer interest.

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