By Adaure Achumba
Duke Energy has filed a request to the North Carolina Utilities Commission seeking approval for additional rate hikes.
The Charlotte-based utility company wants to charge its customers for costs related to three destructive 2018 storms.
Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael and December’s winter storm knocked out power to thousands of people and brought havoc to many of the company’s infrastructure.
Duke estimates the impact of the storms cost about $761 million, with the majority the damage in North Carolina
It plans to propose unspecified rate hikes sometime this year to customers’ bills.
Duke Energy wants to recover about $570 million from North Carolina customers through that rate increase.
Then last month the company filed a request with the NC Utilities Commission to defer storm costs setting the stage for the process toward requesting a rate hike approval.
“Because they were so significant and beyond what the typical storm cost was in an average year, we are just asking them to reserve these costs for future rate requests,” said Meredith Archie, Duke Energy spokesperson.
A statement to WFMY News 2 reads:
“Within a four-month span, North Carolina endured three massive storms that caused significant devastation and required Duke Energy to completely rebuild parts of its system in order to restore power to our customers. On Dec. 21, we filed a request to defer storm costs associated with Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael and Winter Storm Diego in 2018.
We are not requesting any change to rates at this time. Instead, we are asking the N.C. Utilities Commission to reserve the costs that exceeded what is a normal range of storm costs and to consider the costs in a future rate change request to be made within the next 12 months. The N.C. Utilities Commission will ultimately determine what’s appropriate for customer rates based on a long-standing and very transparent public process.”
You can read the filing for the Duke Energy Carolinas utility, which serves the Triad region Here Energy watchdog group NC WARN is opposed to Duke Energy’s request to the Commission.
“They have always been allowed to recover those expenses but they have not been allowed to make a markup or a profit on top of those expenses and that’s what’s new this time,” said Jim Warren, the executive director of N.C. WARN.
It is up to the N.C. Utilities Commission to decide what customers will pay. Duke Energy requested that the Utilities Commission make its decision within the next 12 months.