Business

Duke Energy maintains consumers benefit from rate increases

Posted May 5

— An attorney for Duke Energy said Monday that rate increases benefit electric customers in the long run by guaranteeing the viability of the utility.

Chris Browning made the argument before the North Carolina Supreme Court while calling for justices to uphold a 7.5 percent increase that the state Utilities Commission awarded to Duke last year for former Progress Energy customers.

The state Attorney General's Office appealed the increase, saying the commission ignored an April 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down another Duke rate increase because consumer interests weren't considered.

Special Deputy Attorney General Bill Conley argued Monday that the former Progress customers were "an afterthought" in the commission's decision to raise rates, noting that the panel rejected a lower recommended increase because it would have hurt Duke investors.

Browning said the commission had to balance competing consumer interests, not just the short-term impact of a rate increase. The customers also are affected by Duke's ability to obtain financing for upgrades to its power generation and distribution network, and limited rate increases would hinder that capability, he said.

"No one ever wants to have a rate increase, but if a company doesn't have sufficient revenue and the company's ability to raise capital is put in jeopardy, it is customers that suffer in the long run," he said.

William Grantmyre, an attorney for the North Carolina Public Staff, the state agency that represents consumers in utility rate cases, backed Duke in the rate case, saying the Utilities Commission decision was in the best interest of the former Progress customers.

The Attorney General's Office has repeatedly challenged electric rate increases in recent years, saying that consumers are still hurting from the recession and can't afford higher utility bills.

29 Comments

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  • tierneemalinadeveaux May 5, 5:34 p.m.

    I really benefit from Duke raising my electricity bill. Really?

  • rdunham12 May 5, 5:08 p.m.

    So they want to increase rates well I have something to say to them. You claim my meter is my responsibility and that I am responsible for replacing the box attached to my house. Well if you increase my rates then replace my box.

  • foodstamptrader May 5, 3:01 p.m.

    I can see Duke asking for increases, that is in their interest. What galls me is the rubber stamp SUC (appropriately acronym-ed) approving this outrageous rate hike! They are supposed to be a counter balance for the consumer in a monopolized business.

    How do they justify a 7.5% rate hike in a time of declining NG and stable oil prices? Inflation is under 2%. The appeal should not even have been needed....

  • curiousgeorgia May 5, 2:35 p.m.

    SERIOUSLY?

  • SaveEnergyMan May 5, 2:24 p.m.

    Without a substantial raise in years, I am really "benefitting" from companies that keep raising prices and rates. Benefitting all the way to the poorhouse, that is!

    The audacity of such a comment is beyond belief. I think a reduction in their guaranteed rate of return for stockholders is in order, until the management comes to their senses that the price of being a regulated monopoly is that they serve their customer's interests too.

  • OleNCNative May 5, 2:08 p.m.

    It's a good thing for me to pay more because it makes Duke more viable?

    Isn't Duke already the biggest utility company ever? How is it not already viable enough?

    No rate hikes!!

  • juchushu May 5, 1:56 p.m.

    I'm fortunate that my power bill has yet to go up. But if it does, I don't know how I'm going to be able to afford a double or triple bill. Why don't the men up at the top take a little pay cut if they are so concerned about money? Ugh.

  • workerbee May 5, 1:47 p.m.

    This just reinforces my original thought when I heard of the Duke-Progress merger that no good would come to us by merging with a pro-coal company. This along with recent events just brings it to reality. We're going to pay.

  • dwntwnboy2 May 5, 1:35 p.m.

    To say Duke doesn't have "sufficient revenue" is a lie- look at the bonuses handed out to those at the top!!

  • scubagirl2 May 5, 1:35 p.m.

    From your pockets straight to their shareholder's pockets. Now, if you're a shareholder, I... View More

    — Posted by downeast2

    well I AM a shareholder and am vehemently opposed to the rate hike, and most other things DE has done over the last few years! They don't need that kind of profit and they sure aren't spending it to clean up their mess.

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