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Duke Energy asks for rate increase

Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, filed an application with the North Carolina Utilities Commission Sept. 30, 2019, requesting authority to increase its rates for electric service in order to produce an additional $445.3 million in retail base revenues. 

According to a utilities commission press release, that would mean the current monthly bill of $102.71 would increase to $108.43 under DEC’s proposal for a residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month.

In its application, Duke stated that its request is driven by investments it has made since its 2017 rate case, including retiring, replacing and upgrading generation plants; investments to modernize and maintain the company’s transmission and distribution systems; costs incurred to restore service to customers after Hurricanes Florence and Michael and Winter Storm Diego; the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure, which includes smart meters; investments needed to comply with environmental regulations related to coal combustion residuals, including ash basin closure activities to satisfy regulatory requirements; depreciation rate changes, including efforts to reduce the company’s reliance on coal by accelerating the remaining lives of some of the company’s coal-fired generation facilities, and other costs incurred by Duke to provide power.

Duke Carolinas’ last rate hike request came in 2017 and a public hearing was held in Franklin in January 2018. At the time, Duke was asking for a 15 percent rate increase to increase it’s annual revenue by $611 million, but customers made it clear they were opposed to any increase for Duke. In June, the commission announced that Duke’s request had been denied and the corporation was ordered to refund $60 million in deferred taxes to customers and to pay $70 million in fines for the coal ash disaster.

One major point of contention for residents during the public hearings was that Duke wanted to increase customer rates to help recoup costs associated with cleaning up its 14 coal ash basins across North Carolina. Duke stated in its application that about $135 million of the requested additional revenue was intended to recover ash basin closure compliance costs incurred since Jan. 1, 2015. Duke also sought to recover $201 million toward ongoing ash basin closure compliance costs.

The utilities commission has scheduled four hearings to receive testimony from Duke’s customers, as well as an evidentiary hearing beginning March 23 for testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses. A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Macon County Courthouse, 5 West Main Street, Franklin. 

Customers can also submit a written statement to the commission via email. Be sure to include the docket number (E-7 Sub 1214CS) in the subject line. Another option is to mail a statement to the commission at the address below. In either case, after two or three business days, statements are made part of the official record for the proceeding, and can be viewed on this website via docket number.

North Carolina Utilities Commission is a separate, independent agency that represents the using and consuming public in matters before the commission, including rate increase requests like this one. 

To submit a public comment or to find out more about the rate increase request, visit https://www.ncuc.net/hearings/e7sub1214hearing.html.

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