Immediate job creation, boost to local economies would also stem from alternative to Duke Energy’s plan, say experts
DURHAM, NC – Today NC WARN filed a proposal with state regulators that would cut power bills for thousands of customers, immediately create hundreds of jobs and boost local economies. With support from energy and housing agencies and experts, the proposal would expand on proven but poorly funded programs already in place across North Carolina.
And, NC WARN says, it would benefit all Duke Energy customers because saving electricity is far cheaper and smarter than continuing to build climate-damaging power plants.
The Community Enhanced Program, was filed with the NC Utilities Commission to address Duke Energy’s proposal to charge non-industrial customers over $70 million annually for efficiency programs. NC WARN and others are concerned that Duke’s plan would generate profits without assurances that power would actually be saved.
The Community Program would redirect $30 million of Duke’s “Save-a-Watt” plan toward low, moderate and fixed income homes, where residents are continually threatened by high electricity costs and weather extremes. The Program would be administered by the NC Housing Finance Authority, a quasi-governmental agency that assists local governments, community action agencies, urban ministries and others across North Carolina.
Satana Deberry, Executive Director of the nonprofit NC Housing Coalition, will appear as an expert witness for NC WARN in the efficiency proceeding. Today she said, “Thousands of families who are already living paycheck to paycheck, are being asked to choose between their basic food and shelter needs and electricity. The simplest and most economical way to keep energy costs affordable for low to moderate income families and people on fixed incomes is to invest in energy efficiency.”
She said that, by using proven energy-saving programs, existing community networks and experienced workers already in place, more resources can go toward actual energy-saving than Duke’s plan provides. Using the existing infrastructure and a backlog of households seeking help would eliminate the need for Duke to spend 20 percent of total costs trying to sign up customers.
Based on proven programs, Deberry estimates the Community Program would result in up to 1,100 jobs in the Duke the service territory, and that every dollar invested would result in $2.53 in benefits for a community.
NC WARN is also calling for the Commission to prioritize multi-family homes for energy-saving programs, saying Duke’s plan undervalues the enormous savings potential among that housing sector.
“The poor spend over twice as much of their income on energy as the rest of Americans.” said Deborah Warren, another efficiency expert who will testify the case. “Duke’s program can be strengthened so that it achieves much greater energy savings in a segment of the residential market that is very underserved by utilities across the nation.”
On August 20th, the commission will allow public testimony prior to the start of an evidentiary hearing on the energy saving proposals.
“It’s time for the Commission to finally get serious about saving energy instead of allowing Duke to keep raising rates to build power plants while paying corporate lip-service to energy efficiency,” said NC WARN executive director Jim Warren today.