By Charlotte Huffman
RALEIGH, N.C. – Duke Energy Carolinas came under fire from critics claiming the company tried to overcharge North Carolinians by hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Evidentiary hearings began Monday afternoon at the N.C. Utilities Commission, which heard evidence from supporters and opponents of Duke Energy’s proposed $200 million rate increase.
Questioning in day two of the hearing has primarily focused on how much money Duke Energy Carolinas will earn with the company’s proposed return on equity, a measure of profit.
The nation’s largest utility company has a settlement deal with state regulators that would allow a rate increase that includes a 10.2 percent return on equity.
“The settlement agreement being discussed today includes a 10.2 percent return on equity. It’s a balance. It balances the needs of the customers to receive affordable, reliable electricity with providing results to our shareholders and that’s a balance that’s had a good track record in North Carolina,” [Lisa] Parrish [of Duke Energy Communications] said.
Outspoken critic of Duke Energy and opponent of the rate hike, Jim Warren of NC WARN, disagrees with Parrish.
“It’s not balance when you’ve got dozens of people making huge salaries including multi-millionaires at Duke Energy. And they keep raising rates over and over on families and small businesses,” Warren said. “We now know that they have tried to overcharge customers by tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. So they simply cannot with a straight face say this is a balance.”