As more groups challenge proposed grid deal, soaring rates are reflected in corporate document
Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good recently promised investors they could count on “multiple rate cases” in both of the corporation’s Carolinas service areas beginning next year – to fund seemingly endless construction of fracked gas power plants and clean-up of coal ash. Separately, she promised to boost rates and profits via a $16 billion electric “grid modernization” scheme that an expert for the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) testified could, on its own, raise residential rates by up to 50 percent.*
See the graphic slides Good wowed stockholders with in January, with red notations added by NC WARN. Duke Energy is on track to doubling electricity rates and hammering the economies of both Carolinas.
Any day, the NC Utilities Commission will rule on a pending request for an 11.5 percent average hike. The ruling will also address Duke’s separate, $7.8 billion, ten-year grid request, and how to consider a proposed June 1st settlement reached between Duke, NCSEA, Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club. That deal would start the grid work as a pilot project for $2.5 billion over three years.
More groups keep coming out against the proposed settlement, most recently the NC Clean Energy Business Alliance, Appalachian Voices, the Rachel Carson Council, and Friends of the Earth. They join a long list of business and nonprofit opponents of the deal.**
Best we can tell based on the limited information in the proposed deal, for modest to minimal gain paid for with annual, rubber-stamp rate hikes, this project would help Duke Energy further lock in its plans to greatly expand fracked gas and do the minimum in renewables – as shown in its 15-year planning documents. Meanwhile, Duke continues working with other monopoly utilities and the Koch brothers to limit the growth of clean energy.
*Caroline Golin’s testimony (PDF pp. 17, 46) in the current rate case relates to the $7.8 billion Duke Carolinas portion of the grid scheme. Presumably, the rate impact would be similar in the Duke Progress territory.
**An updated list of those openly opposing the grid settlement:
Carolina Industrial Group for Fair Utility Rates III
Public Staff of the Utilities Commission
Carolina Utility Customers Association Inc.
Southern Environmental Law Center
NC Justice Center
NC Housing Coalition
Natural Resources Defense Council
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
NC Clean Energy Business Alliance,
The Rachel Carson Council
Friends of the Earth
Attorney General Josh Stein has not filed a notice of opposition to the settlement yet, but did oppose the “grid modernization” during the rate case.