Duke seeks 15 percent increase in electric rates
Posted June 1
Charlotte, N.C. — Duke Energy on Thursday filed a request with state regulators to increase electric rates by an average 14.9 percent across central and eastern North Carolina by the beginning of next year.
"Our customers tell us they want electricity that is more reliable and increasingly clean, and they also want more value and choice every day," David Fountain, Duke’s North Carolina president, said in a statement. "It is critical that we, as their energy provider, balance these needs with smart investments that keep costs reasonable and keep North Carolina competitive."
If the increase is approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, residential customers would see their rates go up by 16.7 percent, while rates for industrial and commercial customers would go up by 13.5 percent.
The increases will generate an extra $477 million in revenue for the Charlotte-based utility, which officials said would help pay for new natural gas-fired power plants and solar arrays and to clean up coal ash ponds at older plants.
"We are transitioning to a cleaner generation mix, closing older, less-efficient coal-fired plants and shifting to natural gas, carbon-free nuclear and expanded solar energy," Fountain said. "Through these investments, we are providing customers cleaner, more reliable energy and have laid the foundation for a smarter energy future from which all North Carolinians can benefit."
State laws adopted since 2014 have mandated that Duke close all of its coal ash ponds across North Carolina. The ash at a few sites must be dug up and moved to lined landfills, while other sites can simply be covered and left in place.
Duke officials said the company also spent heavily to rebuild its power distribution system after Hurricane Matthew and Tropical Storm Hermine last fall and after three winter storms, and the added revenue will help recoup some of those costs.