Asheville residents may not be aware or care about Duke Energy’s proposed rate hikes for North Carolina homes, businesses, and municipal governments. They should be, especially if and when Duke and Progress Energy merge. … The last 8 percent increase was granted in 2010 by the N.C. Utilities Commission.
This time Duke is asking for residential- and commercial-rate increases of 17.4 percent and 14 percent, respectively, which will add $19 to a homeowner’s monthly bill for every 1,000 kilowatt hours of use. Struggling businesses will need to do the math to stay alive.
Duke claims it needs to recover $4.8 billion in investments made since 2009 to “modernize” its electric systems; comply with state and federal emissions regulations; and cover the impacts of the recession. Apparently electric consumption is down in North Carolina — “hard times” for everyone except for Duke upper management. Duke CEO James E. Rogers took home $8,815,181 in stock options in 2010.
Who needs a salary with that kind of compensation package?
I’m surprised by the lack of interest in this issue, especially at the municipal and county levels of government — even rates for public lighting will be increased by 8 percent by a proposed governmental lighting tariff in lieu of the existing public lighting tariff. The N.C. Utilities Commission website (www.ncuc.net) under Docket #E-7, Sub 989, lists all documents pertaining to this rate hike.
There, one finds official opposition from only nine North Carolina towns or cities, including the town of Franklin and Macon County.
The town of Spindale sums it up best [in a resolution]: “The proposed rate hike places a burden upon the unemployed and underemployed in an effort to build more capacity when capacity is not necessary.” The cover letter for the Spindale resolution is signed by Town Manager R. Cameron McHargue. We sorely need town and county managers who are willing to challenge Duke on behalf of municipal and county residents.
Without public input, Duke will get its rate hikes without further investigation of exactly which state will receive the benefits of all these improvements to transmission and distribution systems — electric cooperatives in South Carolina or customers in Ohio or Indiana?
There are public hearings about the rate hikes, scheduled by the N.C. Utilities Commission, for Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the McDowell County Courthouse in Marion, and Wednesday, Oct. 26, same time, in the Macon County Courthouse (Courtroom A). You should be there.
— Roger Turner