Duke Energy seeks rate hike, would affect Chatham customers

Posted 10/11/19

Duke Energy announced last week that it’s asking regulators to approve a rate hike for its energy customers.

Duke Energy, the primary electricity provider in North Carolina and Chatham County, …

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Duke Energy seeks rate hike, would affect Chatham customers

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Posted

Duke Energy announced last week that it’s asking regulators to approve a rate hike for its energy customers.

Duke Energy, the primary electricity provider in North Carolina and Chatham County, is requesting a variety of increases which will average about 6.7 percent on its residential customers and about 5 percent for its commercial users, according to a company statement. Duke Energy estimates customers who use 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each month would pay $116.26 per month or an increase of $8.06 per month on average. The rate hike would bring in an additional $291 million per year to the company, according to its estimates.

Duke Energy said the rate increase would “cover costs Duke Energy has incurred on behalf of customers to shift to cleaner energy, improve reliability and grid resiliency and provide more convenience for customers” and to pay for repairs as a result of hurricane damage. The rate hike will also increase its profit margin to more than 10 percent according to reports.

In contrast to the rate hike request in North Carolina, Duke Energy announced last month it would be reducing its rate for its customers in Florida while “adding more solar power and making grid improvements to enhance reliability, security and resilience,” which is nearly the exact language it used in its release for its North Carolina customers.

“We know rising costs can be difficult for many customers, but particularly challenging for our customers on low and fixed incomes,” Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, said in a news release. “We have heard the concerns and are working to minimize the impact of these important investments on our customers least able to accommodate rate increases. We look forward to the next steps in this process.”

The release said the company’s request included “proposals intended to reduce the impact of rising costs on low- and fixed-income customers.” These include eliminating credit card payment fees and no increase in the monthly basic service charge. It also requested the N.C. Utilities Commission “convene a broad stakeholder workshop to evaluate additional regulatory programs and protections for low-income customers, ranging from efficiency programs to potential new tariffs and other initiatives.”

The N.C. Utilities Commission will need to approve the rate change request following a review process.

Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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