In response to a petition filed last November by NC WARN and Friends of the Earth, the NC Utilities Commission today proposed rules that would prohibit Duke Energy’s public utilities from charging ratepayers for political contributions, charitable contributions and lobbying expenses.
Duke/Kochs' Control of Government
Duke Energy and others in the energy industry consistently use deceptive public relations – and millions of customer dollars – to distort the debate over important decisions. Duke’s control over NC state government is significant. We must face this “inconvenient truth” in order to make the shift to clean, safe energy. This corporate influence has, in the words of Dr. James Hansen, wounded our democracy.
Particularly egregious are efforts by Duke, the Koch brothers and other industry powers to slow the growth of solar energy and, in North Carolina, to prevent competition from third-party providers of no-upfront-cost solar deals that put solar energy within reach of many more homeowners and businesses. Another good example of corporate power is the passage in some states of Construction Work in Progress laws that allow utilities to charge customers in advance for building expensive new plants that aren’t even needed.
In 2015, Duke Energy, the Koch Brothers and others successfully kept the Energy Freedom bill bottled up in committee at the NC legislature. The bill would have opened up NC to third-party solar deals. Read about our 2015 Duke Hates Solar campaign in support of the bill.
Read about our Solar Freedom project at Faith Community Church in Greensboro — a test case in the state’s ban on third-party sales of electricity.
Direct Appeals for Dialogue with Duke Energy
NC WARN has repeatedly reached out to Duke Energy executives, seeking to collaborate with them on moving away from obstructionism and toward a clean energy future. A few examples are listed here.
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The state Senate vote yesterday on Duke Energy’s highly controversial “alternative ratemaking” bill and subsequent appointments to a conference committee clearly show the utility company’s undue influence over the legislative and public policy process, says the Energy Justice for North Carolina (EJNC) coalition.
Senate Bill 559, approved by the Senate, is awaiting approval in the state House, where it is sitting in committee. The bill, which Duke Energy heavily lobbied for, consists of two parts — the first related to storm recovery funding and the second, more controversial part related to expanding rate-setting options.
The Energy Justice North Carolina Coalition released a report today detailing the influence of Duke Energy’s campaign contributions on state legislators’ support for Duke-sponsored bills together with a new, interactive web tool that tracks political contributions from electric monopolies like Duke.
Florida calls itself the Sunshine State. But when it comes to the use of solar power, it trails 19 states, including not-so-sunny Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. Solar experts and environmentalists blame the state’s utilities.
Duke is making a lot of noise in its attempt to divert attention from the massive cost exposure potential related to the alternative rate mechanism proposal by focusing attention on the securitization section of SB559. Parkdale’s opposition is with Duke’s proposed multi-year ratemaking and return-on-equity banding, which will result in enormous rate hikes on all North Carolinians and businesses.
The move was a blow to clean energy groups and more than a dozen Democratic state legislators who wanted more public meetings and an expert witness hearing over Duke’s plan, which calls for deriving 8% of electricity from renewable sources while building a raft of new fossil gas plants and keeping many of its coal plants running past 2033.
Letter to the Editor by Jim Warren. Duke Energy’s Senate Bill 559 is indeed a Trojan Horse (oped June 1). The bill – which could be worth tens of billions for Duke – is as lousy as the deceptive process pushing it forward.
Duke Energy is pushing a Trojan horse – which, while disguised as legislation to give state regulators more flexibility, would permit Duke to earn excessive profits at customers’ expense without the comprehensive scrutiny it currently receives from regulators.
Key provisions to extend the period of time between utility company rate cases are embedded within N.C. Senate Bill 559, being debated at the N.C. General Assembly. Similar provisions hurt Virginia customers, and will hurt North Carolina customers, too.