By Will Michaels
State regulators are considering a plan to allow Duke Energy to charge customers a little more as it increases energy efficiency.
The Utilities Commission held a public hearing yesterday to discuss a proposal from the utility. Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks says it calls for the company to invest in energy efficiency programs while allowing the utility to recover lost revenue.
“The model provides recovery of costs associated with implementing the programs as well as incentives for the amount of energy that it helps customers save, in addition to also helping to recover some of the revenues that are lost as part of energy saving programs that reduce customer demand on the system,” Brooks says.
The Environmental Defense Fund and the state’s official consumer advocates signed off on it Monday. The deal includes a $400,000 bonus if the company increases energy savings by more than one percent in any year. Other environmental groups and advocates for the poor argue the settlement does not go far enough to save energy or protect low-income customers from higher rates.
“It spends a lot of money without saving that much energy or without guaranteeing that much energy would be saved,” says Jim Warren of the environmental group NC WARN.
“We’re proposing that a sizable amount of the money that Duke and the others are proposing to spend should go to a low-income effort and help the people that really need the energy savings the most.”
A group of non-profits at the hearing, including NC WARN, said Duke should invest more in community-based efforts to weatherize homes and reduce monthly power bills without raising rates.