Opponents prep for Duke rate hike hearing

Public comment will be taken on a proposed 17.4 percent rate hike by Duke Energy at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Macon County courthouse.

Commercial customers’ rates would increase by 14 percent.

Aside from general disdain of larger monthly power bills, the proposed rate hike has raised the hackles of environmentalists. Duke is hoisting the cost of building a new coal power plant onto its customers. Environmentalists have questioned the need for the new coal plant, instead calling for renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation.

“The proposed hikes will place a burden on the public in an effort to build more generating capacity when such capacity is not necessary,” said Ken Brown, a member of WNC Alliance environmental organization in Jackson County.

The N.C. Utility Commission must OK the rate hike. It is holding public hearings across the state, including the one in Franklin.

A meeting called Green Drinks was held recently in Franklin, and helped prep talking points for opponents to use at the public hearing.

“We feel a large public turnout is needed to keep the decision-making process balanced,” said Bill Crawford, an organizer of Green Drinks.

Green Drinks is a monthly social gathering of conservationists, providing a forum and outlet for the environmental community to discuss issues and share concerns. It was patterned after a long-standing Green Drinks event in Asheville.

Anyone is welcome. 828. 524.2280 or 828.349.3067.

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