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Duke Energy ratehikeWaving over-sized “Monopoly” money and signs calling for the state Utilities Commission and its Public Staff to begin acting like genuine watchdogs, 50-plus representatives from a variety of consumer and environmental groups held a press conference/protest today outside the offices of the Commission in downtown Raleigh. The took place just over an hour prior to the commencement of new hearings on what would be Duke’s third major rate hike for residential consumers since 2009.

Despite the immediate impetus for the event, Jim Warren, Executive Director of NC WARN said that the protest was about “a lot more than a rate hike. ” He said that protesters were calling into question “Duke Energy’s business model” which is predicated on improperly charging customers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.   Read More

Some giant corporations complain about and battle government. Others try to co-opt and corrupt it. In the case of Duke Energy, one gets the distinct impression that the ever-mushrooming Charlotte-based monopoly will simply absorb North Carolina state government at some point and turn it into its Raleigh branch.

Fortunately, some intrepid consumer advocates are still giving Duke heck for the heck it continually visits upon residential ratepayers and our ever-more-fragile natural environment. Here’s their press statement from earlier this week on the occasion of a public hearing in Charlotte (the actual Utilities Commission proceedings begin Monday July 8 here in Raleigh — be on the lookout for more information):

Broad Coalition of Ratepayers Calls for Rejection of Duke Energy Rate Hike
Rate case opposed for environmental, social justice and financial reasons

Charlotte, NC.  A broad coalition of organizations and dissatisfied ratepayers will gather this evening at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to call on the North Carolina Utilities Commission to reject the proposed Duke Energy rate hike and a settlement proposed by the Commission’s Public Staff. The coalition’s opposition is based on environmental, social justice and financial reasons. Read More

Duke Energy’s electricity rates are poised to continue skyrocketing over the next few years, but only some customers will feel the burn. While the utility lures the world’s elite technology giants to NC by offering cheap electricity, captive small business and residential customers are charged higher rates. The rate structure is patently unfair and is being challenged before the NC Utilities Commission by environmental watchdog NCWARN.

While this issue has been debated before Commission in the past, Duke Energy has successfully negotiated it away. The NC Attorney General also recognizes the unfairness but has yet to force a resolution to protect consumers. Read More

This week the NC Justice Center, NC WARN and the NC Housing Coalition challenged the proposed Duke Energy rate hike settlement that the NC Utilities Commission Public Staff is supporting. The organizations are highlighting how unfair the proposal for a 7.21% rate increase is to residential and most business customers, because the rate allocation method is biased to accommodate energy hogging industries.

Energy Hog

These energy hogs – such as Facebook and Google data centers – are already being subsidized by various tax breaks and incentives offered by the state, creating few jobs and benefiting from Duke’s biased rate allocation method.

The organizations also raised concerns about discriminatory practices regarding residential late payment charges and shut off notices, noting how these practices disproportionately impact low-income customers.

The NC Utilities Commission needs to require Duke Energy to develop a rate allocation method that reflects the new demand brought on by the energy hogs, reflecting the need for peak, intermediate and base load capacity through the year. This issue will also become important to Progress Energy customers if the Duke-Progress merger is approved because Progress uses a different, more fair rate allocation, and how the two will be resolved remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

Monday November 28th is the final of five hearings of the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) on the request by Duke Power to raise its electricity rates. Between this request, the proposed merger of Progress and Duke and the companies’ dirty energy portfolios, electricity rates for North Carolinians may soon soar. Your voice is needed to stop the rate hikes which in turn can cause Duke to increase efficiency and renewables in its energy mix. Read More