5 On Your Side

Duke Energy defends costly deposits on customers' monthly bills

Posted February 24, 2014
Updated February 25, 2014

— Hundreds of Duke Energy Progress customers are still frustrated and asking questions after a 5 On Your Side investigation found that unexpected and steep deposits of up to $1,000 were tacked on to their monthly bills without explanation.

Residential customers said they were annoyed that the company did not warn people about the deposits before they appeared on the bills and that it did not offer written explanation with the bill. Duke disputes that assertion, saying all bills have written statements warning customers to pay on time to avoid late fees. 

Duke offered many reasons why these deposits were added, including making multiple late payments, even if by only one day, payments that didn't go through or shut off notices for non-payment.

Customers blamed "late" payments on the lengthy processing times, but Duke said patrons should be aware of the varying cut-off times for various methods of payment and recommends use only authorized payment methods listed on its website.

But the sudden deposits weren't the only thing customers were worried about.

Customers also expressed concerned with the company's policy of conducting automatic credit history checks to determine whether a deposit is required, something Duke said only applies to new residential and business customers, and extremely high power bills even without the added deposit.

Duke said the higher energy costs are mainly because of two reasons:

1) All-time usage records in January because of this year's extreme cold, and

2) A rate increase that took effect in June which is now showing up because of extreme weather.

Duke Energy Progress customers can verify usage issues online by comparing this year's consumption to rates from last January and February. They can also find information about how to assess energy usage and figure out ways to save. 

Finally, Duke Energy Progress recommends customers who would like to receive predictable monthly bills to enroll in the company's equal payment plan. That's where the company can estimate what customers' bills will be and divide the amount in equal payments over the year. Adjustments, which the company says are usually minor, are applied over the following year.

Customized energy reports are also available on the company's website.

17 Comments

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  • Rebelyell55 Mar 3, 12:04 p.m.

    V Vet 72-75 Feb 25, 1:49 p.m.

    How much of this does the Gov get?
    .....Good question, since there is a sales tax applied to the bill, do the deposit get taxed? If so, that a hugh amount of sales tax the goverment gets. Also, the only ones who can stop this practice is the ulitity com. who we all know won't do anything about it since it drives revenue into the state's pockets.

  • ginapps9 Feb 28, 1:52 p.m.

    We have contacted Duke Engery on a number of times in regad to our high electric bill (last month $566.30) have done the things they recommend to save engery even have ask them to come to our home and help us find the casue of such high bills, with no response. When wi

  • cbabob Feb 26, 3:07 p.m.

    Hey Libertarian - got anything to back up your numbers?

    According to the "Levelized Cost of New Generation Resources in the Annual Energy Outlook 2013" from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) I don't see those numbers at all.

    Conventional coal plants are at $100/MWH while Solar PV at 144 - and we don't have to live in a Beijing smog (and all the health costs associated with that).

    To your 20% reference: the 20% is a target for 2020 - whereas the above numbers I quoted are for 2018.

    Furthermore, it is not ONLY for solar, it is for all renewable energy sources, some of which even have lower costs than conventional coal.

  • LEX Feb 25, 4:16 p.m.

    Break Duke up. If it could be done with BellSouth and AT&T then the same thing should be considered with Duke. Allow some competition.

  • SaveEnergyMan Feb 25, 1:56 p.m.

    Duke/Progress DOES charge more in the summer for residential customers - look at the rate schedule. For commercial accounts, energy is much more expensive during certain parts of the day and less at night and on the weekends. This is because their cost to make power goes up substantially in the afternoon in summer or in the morning in the winter. It's gouging only when your cost stays the same and you charge more due to circumstances.

    With that, Duke/PE should have sent notices by mail stating what they had done and that a deposit would now be required. It would then show up on the next bill, or you could argue against it. Communication and customer relations have never been Duke's strong suit.

  • WASP Feb 25, 1:49 p.m.

    How much of this does the Gov get?

  • Obamacare rises again Feb 25, 1:14 p.m.

    Duke Energy owns Boardwalk and Park Place with hotels and most of us just landed on Boardwalk.

  • cpdtg Feb 25, 11:01 a.m.

    Ever play Monopoly where we gonna buy power now

  • sallyquality Feb 25, 10:58 a.m.

    Said it before and I'll say it again...this is not CP&L!

  • NC_interest Feb 25, 9:51 a.m.

    It's time to break duke up, they are a monopoly with very few business or ethical scruples.

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