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Customers rail against proposed Duke Energy rate increase

Posted November 2, 2011
Updated November 3, 2011

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— Duke Energy customers railed against the utility's proposed 18 percent rate increase during a public hearing at Durham City Hall on Wednesday evening. 

The hearing was part of a series held by the North Carolina Utilities Commission in an effort to gauge public opinion on the request, which would be the company's largest rate increase for residential customers in at least 20 years.

"They have no idea what regular people deal with every day," customer Judy Schlegel said. 

Schlegel, 66, said she has a medical condition and cannot find permanent work. 

"If I have to pay it, I would have to eat less. I don't know. There is not much to cut," she said. 

If the North Carolina Utilities Commission allows the increase, monthly bills for typical residential customers would rise from $95 to about $113, starting in February.

Duke has said it wants the increase to recover part of the billions it has spent on its electricity-generating and transmission system in the Carolinas since 2009. Duke spokeswoman Betsy Conway said the company has not been allowed to recover the costs until the plant and new equipment is in service.

"Over the past two years, we have invested $4.8 billion in the system. So, we are seeking to recover those costs," Conway said. 

Duke said it must retire and replace aging plants and meet environmental regulations. They say the rates are competitive in the southeast and below the national average.

“We recognize there is never a good time to ask our customers to pay more,” Conway said.

Duke Energy sign Customers rail against Duke Energy rate increase

Customers pointed to two prior hikes since the beginning of last year, and another expected next year.

A group known as the Raging Grannies sang their protest to the rate increase at Wednesday's hearing. 

"We demand you all listen to the citizens today. No rate hike, no way," they sang. 

Earlier hearings were held in Charlotte, Franklin, Marion and High Point. The final hearing is Nov. 28 in Raleigh, when the utilities commission hears testimony and cross-examination of witnesses for Duke Energy and groups opposed to the request.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said his department's Consumer Protection Division plans to participate in the hearing and speak out against the increase.

"There’s never a good time to see your utility bill go up, but a sharp increase right now would really make it hard for many North Carolina families to make ends meet,” Cooper said in a statement Thursday. 

Cooper said dozens of people have written to him expressing their concerns about having to pay higher costs for electricity. The Attorney General's Office has filed copies of the letters with the clerk for the Utilities Commission . 

Charlotte-based Duke also wants to raise South Carolina residential power rates by 17 percent.

About an hour before Wednesday's meeting, more than 20 people gathered to protest the rate increase. They displayed signs in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

151 Comments

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  • mzvsplace Nov 11, 2011

    The people need to push for DEREGULATION in your home states! By doing this, the "generation" portion of your bill is open to competition to companies like my own. You wouldn't have to pay Duke their rate increase and they would still have to deliver your electricity the same and still bill you the same. And say, put that in your pipe Duke and smoke it!!! Speak out people!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 4, 2011

    This is why Duke Energy shouldn't have been allowed to purchase Progress Energy.

    They are using this increase to pay for the acquisition of Progress Energy.

  • Sherlock Nov 3, 2011

    Why waste all that time, this company will get the raise, these companies have more to give then customers and it is election time the company can donate more to teh elections

  • LambeauSouth Nov 3, 2011

    people once believe the earth was flat.
    whatusay
    November 3, 2011 3:15 p.m.
    Report abuse

    many on the right still do, psst don't tell them!

  • BullsEye Nov 3, 2011

    I'll be honest, I don't know enough about EPA regulations, energy costs, etc. to make an educated statement on the subject.

    What I will say is that I don't just have extra money hiding around my house month to month. I imagine Duke Energy makes substantially more money than anyone commenting on this site, seeing as they take money from ALL of us every month, in exchange for a service.

    I don't want to spend more money, simple as that.

  • LambeauSouth Nov 3, 2011

    The EPA works for Obama...whatusay
    seems that before Obama they worked for Bush
    Your Point?
    You actually believe what you type
    So Sad

  • whatusay Nov 3, 2011

    godnessgracious2.... people once believe the earth was flat.

  • whatusay Nov 3, 2011

    haggis basher.... in the past year, how many EPA rules have been placed on fossil fuel and nuclear energy producers? The EPA works for Obama. The EPA forces their will on the people because they believe the know what's best.

    “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.” ~Robert A. Heinlein He also said: "I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." , "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."

  • godnessgracious2 Nov 3, 2011

    So now it's called climate change? I thought it was global warming? I guess climate change is a catch all that won't allow anybody to be wrong.

    It will allow the people who don't think the climate is changing to be wrong. ;-)

  • OGE Nov 3, 2011

    "Kind of like you do when we tell you the climate is changing!" godness

    So now it's called climate change? I thought it was global warming? I guess climate change is a catch all that won't allow anybody to be wrong.
    Create your own wealth

    It's because "smart" people like you just can't grasp the concept that Global Warming has to do with wild swings in temperature(YES cold and hot) in short spans of time and location.

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