Issues

Annual Rate Hikes

A controversial 2007 law in North Carolina already allows the utilities to force customers to pay in advance for new power plants – “construction work in progress” (CWIP). But only if the power companies can justify rate increases in full proceedings before the N.C. Utilities Commission.

Now Duke Energy wants the legislature to let them automatically raise rates every year for new plants – with very limited review by the Commission, and on top of other rate hikes.

This enhanced CWIP provision would create Annual Rate Hikes that continue for years before plants are even completed – which will be in 2023 at the earliest.

Duke Energy proposes to construct two nuclear power plants in the Carolinas. Current estimates for each reactor are in the $10 billion range and will keep rising if construction ever begins.

The only reason Duke Energy demands this bill is that Wall Street flatly refuses to finance these experimental plants unless customers, rather than stockholders, bear the high risk of project failures. In the 1980s over 90 U.S. nuclear projects were abandoned.

The Annual Rate Hikes Bill would force customers to cover cost overruns. At a similar project in Georgia, contractors are arguing for a dozen cost increases – before construction is even licensed.

Duke lobbyists claim the Annual Rate Hikes Bill will save customers money. But pro-nuclear Florida senator Mike Fasano warned NC legislators against passing this bill:

“Every dollar a citizen or business keeps in their pockets instead of sending to the power companies is a dollar that can help strengthen the Florida economy.”

Duke Energy Carolinas has already raised rates three times since 2009, and says it will seek another rate hike this year – before it even begins building nuclear plants – despite making record profits.

If Duke ever builds a nuclear plant, South Carolina will get all the jobs – while North Carolina customers pay 70% of the cost and lose even more jobs because of soaring rates.

Cost Pressure Intensifies for Southern Co. Nuclear Plant — The State

{January 30, 2015}

The delays and cost overruns are piling up for a new plant in Georgia that was supposed to prove nuclear energy can be built affordably. Instead, the companies building first-of-their-kind reactors at Plant Vogtle expect they will need an extra three years to finish construction. The plant’s owners and builders are fighting over who should pay for more than $1 billion in unexpected construction expenses — a figure that could easily grow.

How Duke fleeced Florida customers for $1.5 billion, WTSP News 10 (Tampa)

{August 2, 2013}

On Thursday, Duke Energy Florida (formerly Progress Energy) announced that the company would pull the plug on its future Levy Co. nuclear plant. And the money the company has been collecting from customers for years — and will continue to collect until 2018 — will go toward Duke Energy’s expenses and profits. (Article and video)

Thank you, Tallahassee, for making us pay so much for nothing, Tampa Bay Times

{August 1, 2013}

Hey, elected clowns! Thanks for passing a law forcing Duke Energy customers to pay up to $1.5 billion in higher rates for a long proposed nuclear power plant in Levy County that will not be built… This borders on fraud. If our elected officials had not rubber-stamped it into law seven years ago, it probably would be.

Groups to ramp up fight against Duke Energy rate hikes, WSOC-TV

{May 30, 2013}

Some consumer advocacy groups are ramping up their fight against Duke Energy’s proposed rate hike. On Thursday night, groups including AARP, Consumers Against Rate Hikes and Greenpeace gathered in the North Davidson area to talk about strategy and planning. The groups want to prepare people to speak at a public hearing on June 26 held by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which will decide the rate request. Their goal is to get 500 people at the meeting, which is at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse at 6 p.m.

North Carolina Utilities Commission approves rate increase for Duke Energy Progress’ North Carolina customers, PR Newswire

{May 30, 2013}

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) today approved Duke Energy Progress’ proposed settlement in the company’s request to increase electric rates for its North Carolina customers. “We are pleased the N.C. Utilities Commission has approved our settlement in this case. We believe that the settlement reflects a balance between the needs of our company and those of our customers,” said Paul Newton , Duke Energy state president – North Carolina.

Public speaks out against Duke rate increase at hearing, The Macon County News

{May 23, 2013}

On Tuesday, the public had its chance to voice any opposition they had towards Duke Energy and their proposed rate hikes. Duke Energy has proposed a 9.7 percent increase in its electric rates. The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding hearings across the state to allow the public to have their say. Franklin was the site of one of these hearings — the only one west of Asheville — and people filled the courtroom designated for the hearing at the Macon County Court House Tuesday night.

Public, officials debate Duke Energy rate hike, McDowell News

{May 23, 2013}

Marion Mayor Steve Little said he wanted to voice his “strongest possible objection” to the rate hike. “A request for an increase of the size that we see is unconscionable,” said Little. “It is simply not reasonable. It is not fair. We are not one of the big guys. We are not rich but we get hammered.”

Advocates to Duke Energy: No Rate Hikes for Dirty Fuels

{May 2, 2013}

Ratepayers and concerned North and South Carolinians gathered outside Duke Energy’s annual shareholder meeting for a teach-in to highlight community concerns. Duke Energy seeks to raise electricity prices to pay for extending the use of obsolete and dirty power plants that threaten the health of people, the environment, and the economy.

The shocking burden of $800 light bills, News & Observer

{March 30, 2013}

Op-Ed by Gene Nichol, director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the UNC School of Law
The poorest citizens in the poorest communities in North Carolina often pay the highest rates for electricity. They are required, in the process, to subsidize the services of others much wealthier than themselves. They also, in some instances, are taxed by municipalities in which they can neither vote nor run for office. The burden of crushing electricity prices thwarts economic development in much of Eastern North Carolina, the state’s poorest region…

Rep. Leo Daughtry, a veteran Republican legislator from Smithfield, has tried repeatedly to curb the wounds the N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency inflicts on Eastern North Carolina. “I could tell you story after story of businesses closing down and people having to leave Smithfield because of it,” he says. “Towns can’t prosper because no one wants to pay those bills.”

New Statewide Poll Shows Strong Support for Cleaner, Cheaper Energy

{February 28, 2013}

In a new statewide poll of over 600 North Carolina consumers, respondents expressed both a strong desire for the North Carolina Utilities Commission to help low-income residents as well as their support for cleaner and cheaper energy alternatives to those being proposed by Duke Energy and Progress Energy.