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. 

Rate increase for Duke Energy customers denied

When residents gave testimony back in January adamantly opposing Duke Energy Carolinas’ rate increase request to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, many assumed their strong dissension would fall on deaf ears. 

No decision on Duke Energy rate hike for WNC

The North Carolina Public Utilities Commission has not yet ruled on a rate increase request for Duke Energy customers in Western North Carolina despite conflicting reports. 

State approves partial rate hike for Duke Energy

The North Carolina Utilities Commission has issued an order granting a partial rate increase for Duke Energy Progress.

Duke customers: ‘Pay for your own mistakes’

Western North Carolina residents recently made it clear they do not support Duke Energy Progress’s request for a 15 percent rate increase for its customers.

As required by law, the North Carolina Utilities Commission conducted a public hearing to gather input on the corporation’s request. More than a dozen people testified during the quasi-judicial hearing held in Franklin, and a majority of the speakers were against any increase at all.

Smaller increases slated for Waynesville electric customers

Duke Energy isn’t the only utility company raising its electric rates this year amidst rising energy costs, but some local electric customers will see a better deal than others.

Electric rate increase coming for Waynesville

An electric rate study Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown called “sobering” was presented to the Waynesville Board of Aldermen Oct. 10 and shows shrewd fiscal management on behalf of the town, but an inevitable rate increase on the horizon.

Most oppose Duke rate increase and reliance on fossil fuels

Most who spoke during a public hearing at the Macon County Courthouse on Duke Energy’s proposed rate increases were not pleased with the prospect of another uptick on their electric bills and lambasted Duke Energy representatives for wanting to use the increase to pay for recently built fossil fuel plants and pay higher dividends to investors.

Duke rate hike beats the drum of fossil fuel power production

Well raise my electric bill … again.

Duke Energy is looking to hike its rates by nearly 10 percent.

Awful timing for Duke’s rate hike request

I don’t know Duke Energy CEO James Rogers and don’t have anything against him. But it’s not very hard not to imagine he and the giant utility he runs as the symbolic poster children for much of the discontent brewing in this country right now.

In a recent series of public hearings across North Carolina (including one in Franklin and one in Marion) about Duke Energy’s request for a rate hike, the company’s profits and the pay to its top executives have been mentioned by working-class folks who don’t want to see a 17 percent hike in their power bill. Duke has asked the state Utilities Commission to approve the increase, which would take effect in February 2012 if approved.

According to corporate filings and several news stories, Rogers earned $8.8 million in salary last year and received stock work about $1.35 million. Several other top Duke executives made millions. Also shown by recent corporate filings was a profit rate of 12.5 percent of earnings. Duke had an operating margin of 19.1 percent, which is a pretty good lick in this era. Most of those small businesses who will feel this rate hike would be ecstatic about those profits and that operating margin.

Rogers’ salary and compensation are at a level that puts him in elite company. His compensation is 200 times the salary of someone who makes $50,000 a year. The disparity is jaw dropping.

In addition to Rogers’ huge salary, Duke spent $1.73 million lobbying the federal government in the second quarter of this year. Multiply that out and one would guess that Duke spends somewhere close to $7 million a year trying to influence the votes of the men and woman who are going to make decisions about pollution controls, nuclear energy safeguards, etc.

According to Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan watchdog group, 115 of the 170 state legislators elected in 2010 got a donation from either Duke or Progress Energy. The PACs of Progress Energy and Duke Energy gave $540,000 to General Assembly candidates in the 2010 election alone. That was more than any other PAC. The two companies are on their way toward a merger that will likely be approved.

And here’s a kicker that might raise some hackles. According to Democracy NC, “The companies are also lobbying the N.C. legislature for an unusual law that would allow them to raise rates automatically to recover the millions spent on developing and building new nuclear or other power plants, even if the construction project is ultimately abandoned. The proposal would make ratepayers, rather than investors, bear the financial risk of expansion operations.”

This is not meant as an anti Duke diatribe. Duke Energy is a popular corporate citizen that gives some of its profits back to the communities it serves. Its executives and employees take part in hundreds of community service organization throughout North Carolina.

But the timing of this request is what is so galling. Duke is reaping huge profits, pays its executives exorbitant salaries, and spend millions lobbying lawmakers who make the rules it has to follow, while at the same it wants the poor, the elderly, the unemployed and struggling small businesses to pay more for power.

The reports about of income disparity and poverty are raining down on us like a tropical storm: largest income disparity in U.S. history between top 1 percent and everyone else; elderly rate of poverty highest it has ever been; income gap between young adults and their parents at highest level ever; student debt at record levels; and more and more.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper is lobbying the state Utilities Commission to deny the request. The N.C. Public Staff, which represents the public in these rate hike requests, wants the proposed increase cut by almost two-thirds. Obviously, the opinion of the state’s citizens has been overwhelmingly against the rate hike.

Duke wants more than just the rate increase and the ability to let ratepayers take the risk for its expansion. It also wants the Utilities Commission to up its allowable profit margin to 11.5 percent, up from the 10.7 it is now allowed. The Public Staff recommended a return of 9.25 percent. Most U.S. utilities have been allowed returns of 10 to 10.5 percent in the past five years, according to the  industry trade group Edison Electric Institute.

Taken as a package, this sounds like a big corporation trying to stick it to its customers during an economic recession. Duke’s political clout, however, means it will in all likelihood get at least part of the increase. That’s my bet. Any takers?

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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