A highly controversial rate increase sought by Duke Energy Progress moves into the evidentiary hearing phase Monday at 1pm at the Dobbs Building in Raleigh. The Charlotte-based utility is seeking an overall increase of 14.9 percent, with households targeted for a 16.7 percent hike.
Among the areas NC WARN attorney John Runkle will challenge:
- Past coal ash debacles: As detailed in NC WARN’s March 7th motion in a related case, state laws don’t allow Duke Energy to charge customers for costs resulting from unlawful activities, lawsuit settlements or criminal convictions. The utilities commission’s public staff, the attorney general and most intervenors agree with this position.
- Future coal ash debacles: In addition to seeking $330 million over five years for coal ash clean-up activities so far, Duke is trying to charge customers $129 million per year for future clean-ups – with no end date specified.
- We’re contesting the tens of millions Duke spends each year on politicians to silence public debate and buy goodwill. Such influence money is the third leg of the business model: 1) build unneeded power plants, 2) raise rates, 3) buy favor to keep it going.
- The huge rate increase would be toughest on low- and fixed-income families due to the 75% increase in the residential basic service charge, a flat fee that would jump to $19.50 per month even if no power were used.
- Duke Energy wants customers to pay $45 million for its failed, seven-year effort to license and build two new reactors at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant.
The large rate hike request is a symptom of Duke Energy’s business model of constructing fracked gas-burning power plants, raising rates and running a successfully deceptive PR campaign to look green even as it works 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.
And if Duke Energy’s massive expansion of fracked gas continues forward with little open debate, the hyper-potent methane spewing, unburned, into the air from gas wells, pipelines and power plants will remain a key factor in accelerating the climate crisis.
Day 1 of Duke Energy Progress rate increase hearings in the books – WRAL News
Duke Energy wants to pass coal-ash cleanup costs to you – ABC11 News
Coal ash debate takes center stage as Duke rate hike cases get underway – NC Policy Watch