Watchdog group warns against pattern of backroom “rate games” as Duke Energy Progress seeks 16.7 percent more from households
NC WARN is urging state regulators to break their pattern of settling rate cases and mergers with Duke Energy behind closed doors. The long-running practice undercuts the public wellbeing and gives the utility exactly what it really wants – covered by a thin pretense of regulatory oversight. We are also calling on Attorney General Josh Stein not to be drawn into backroom negotiations, and instead to stand up for the public against allowing Duke’s attempt to recover billions in coal ash clean-up costs that were caused by its executives’ illegal actions.
In a letter sent Friday to the attorney general and Chris Ayers, head of the NC Utilities Commission’s Public Staff, we noted that in the past several rate cases, “premature settlement has made involvement by the public and intervenors almost meaningless.” Last year, for the fifth straight time in a major Duke Energy case, the Public Staff undermined fair process by cutting a backroom deal with the utility; that time, they didn’t even await input from the public or parties to the case.*
Among the initial concerns NC WARN has identified in the application for a rate increase:
The large rate hike request is a symptom of Duke Energy’s business model of constructing fracked gas-burning power plants and raising rates while working with the Koch brothers to stifle the growth of renewable energy. If Duke is allowed to continue on this track, there will be many more rate increases. In fact, by early August the utility also plans to file for a large rate hike for customers in the adjacent Duke Energy Carolinas territory.
And if Duke Energy’s massive expansion of fracked gas succeeds without considerably stronger scrutiny and challenge, the hyper-potent methane spewing unburned from gas wells, pipelines and power plants will be a key factor in driving humanity into runaway climate chaos.
*See the steps of the “rate game” as played by the regulators and regulated in NC.Donate Now