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 and Progress want 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 and Progress Energy propose to construct several Westinghouse nuclear power plants in the Carolinas. Current estimates for each AP1000 reactor are in the $10 billion range and will keep rising if construction ever begins, especially when post-Fukushima changes are required.

The only reason Duke and Progress demand 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-Progress 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 has already raised rates every year 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 an AP1000 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.

New Duke CFO outlines priorities, Charlotte Observer

{August 6, 2013}

Longtime Duke Energy executive Steve Young, named Tuesday as the utility’s chief financial officer, says he will continue to focus on hitting earnings targets, growing Duke’s dividend and buffing its balance sheet and credit ratings… Good has said Duke would like to move to a pay-as-you-go model for new power plants and other infrastructure, whose costs in most cases are now billed to customers only once they’re in service.

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.

NC’s AG Cooper to appeal Progress Energy rate hike, Associated Press

{May 31, 2013}

North Carolina’s Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday he would challenge an electricity rate increase taking effect Saturday that will cost the average home an extra $88 a year. The rate increase will cost consumers an extra $326 million over the next two years. The greatest increase will fall on residential customers, who will see a 6.5 percent average increase this year while some large customers see rates increase by 2.7 percent. “This order puts utility profits ahead of people,” Cooper said in a statement. “It talks about how much consumers are hurting but sticks them with higher rates anyway.”

NC Attorney General to fight Progress rate increase in court, The News & Observer

{May 31, 2013}

State Attorney General Roy Cooper said Friday he will ask the N.C. Supreme Court to block a 7.5 percent rate increase that North Carolina regulators approved a day earlier for Duke Energy Progress. Cooper is challenging the N.C. Utilities Commission’s approval of a Progress rate increase, issued late Thursday in a 120-page order. The AG said the commissioners failed to consider the economic effect of the rate increase on Progress customers.

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.”

Duke Energy Rate Hike Webinars – May 13th and 15th

{May 9, 2013}

May 13, 1-2 p.m.: Information on Duke Rate Hikes
May 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m.: How to Tell a Compelling Story at the hearings