RALEIGH, N.C. — Key hearings on Duke Energy’s request to raise household electricity rates 16.7 percent, once slated to begin today, has been delayed a week as government attorneys tasked with representing the public negotiate with the electric utility.
The change would increase the typical residential bill $17.80 a month, or about $214 a year. That includes a significant increase in the base rate people pay regardless of how much power they use.
The company says it needs the boost to cover a slew of system improvements, coal ash basin cleanups and storm response following Hurricane Matthew. If approved by the state’s Utility Commission, the increase would bring an extra $477.5 million in annual revenue to Duke Energy Progress, which serves the eastern half of North Carolina, including Wake County.
The company also seeks an increase in the return on equity it’s allowed as a regulated monopoly, going to 10.75 percent instead of the current 10.2 percent.
A separate rate case for Duke Energy Carolinas is pending for next year, seeking similar increases and another $611 million in annual revenue for the company, which serves much of the western part of the state, as well as Durham and much of Orange County.
Both Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress are owned by Duke Energy.
These matters are typically heard in a court-like setting, with multiple sides making arguments on the proper rates the regulated monopoly should be allowed , and appointed commissioners acting as judge. Just what issues may be settled in the Duke Energy Progress case was unclear over the weekend, but a late Friday order from the commission indicated a partial agreement would be released on Monday. Whatever issues remain could be litigated beginning October 27, according to the order, which was forwarded to NC WARN and other parties Friday evening by a Duke Energy attorney.
For NC WARN, an environmental advocacy group set to argue against the request, the delay recalls other recent rates cases settled prematurely, Executive Director Jim Warren said.