Understanding Duke Energy's Proposed Rate Increase

6:43 PM, Oct 26, 2011   |    comments
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Triad, N.C. - In the worst economy in decades, Duke Energy is asking for more of your money. The company wants to raise your rates as much as - 18.6 percent.

For the average person, that means your bill could increase by nearly 18 dollars each month.

Duke Energy says that rate increase will cover the cost of infrastructure upgrades, the rising cost of employee benefits and its employee buyout program.

News 2 reached out to Duke Energy to see how the company can justify asking for more money when its customers already struggle to pay their bills.

"There's never a good time to ask for a rate increase. What kind of originated this rate increase we have in front of us is that over the years, we've had to keep up with the modernization of some of our power plants and retire some of these plants that have been in operation since the 40s and the 50s," Duke Energy Spokesperson Davis Montgomery said.

News 2 also asked why the company couldn't wait until after the economy recovered. Montgomery responded, "While in the short term, that probably helps the customer weather through the storm, long-term it costs them more money as we're under-recovering the amount of money we need to cover financing costs and our operating costs."

The state utilities commission has already told News 2 it believes Duke's request is excessive.

On Thursday, October 27, the North Carolina Utilities Commission will have a hearing at 7:00 p.m. at High Point City Hall, located at 211 South Hamilton Street.

If you're planning to attend, the commission recommends the following:

First, tell your story. Let the commission know how a rate increase would affect your life, your family, your business.

Second, be organized and prepared. Plan what you're going to say and make your arguments as concise and precise as possible.

Third, bring a written copy of your remarks with you and give members a copy. Commissioners will take notes, but written copies always help.

Finally, keep your remarks short. Remember, there will be a lot of people at the hearing. Many will not get the chance to speak because there simply won't be enough time. That's another reason why having that written copy with you is a good idea.

If you cannot attend the hearing, you can still voice your opinion.

Send letters to:
North Carolina Utilities Commission
4325 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4325

Send emails to:
Consumer.Services@psncuc.nc.gov

History of rate increases (from the NC Utilities Commission):

In Docket No. E-7, Sub 487, a 1991 rate case, Duke requested a revenue increase of approximately $222.6 million dollars or 9.22%. The Commission approved an increase of approximately $100.1 million or 4.1%.

In Docket No. E-7, Sub 828, following the 2006 merger of Duke Energy and Cinergy Corp. and the expiration of the rate freeze under the Clean Smokestacks Act, Duke was ordered to file a rate case in 2007. The Commission approved a settlement providing for a revenue reduction of approximately $286.9 million effective 1/1/2008.

In Docket No. E-7, Sub 909, a 2009 rate case, Duke requested a revenue increase of approximately $496 million. The Commission approved a settlement providing for an increase of approximately $315 million, effective 1/1/10. $88.9 million of the increase was delayed for one year, until 1/1/11.

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