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'The proposal doesn't meet the needs of North Carolinians.' Duke Energy customers voice concerns of proposed rate hike at public hearing Tuesday

Many Duke Energy customers voiced their concerns to Duke Energy commissioners Tuesday night in Raleigh, with some saying the hikes could force them to relocate.

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By
Lora Lavigne
and
Julian Grace, WRAL anchors/reporters
RALEIGH, N.C. — Duke Energy hosted a public hearing Tuesday night in Raleigh for a proposed price hike for their customers

The proposed hike by Duke Energy Progress is a little different than others. This is specifically to help make upgrades and improvements to the grid.

It's mostly people in eastern and central North Carolina -- including those in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington -- who will be affected.

Customers voiced their concerns in front of a board of six utility commissioners.

"This proposal doesn't meet the needs of North Carolinians," said one customer.

Duke is asking state regulators for about a 20% hike over three years, with the first 11% increase happening as soon as October.

Beginning Oct. 1, the monthly impact for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would be an increase of $14.72, from $126.43 to $141.15 per month, followed by a $5.62 increase in October 2024 and a $5.21 increase in October 2025.

By Oct. 1, 2025, the cumulative monthly impact for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month would be an increase of $25.55 over today’s rates.

WRAL News asked Jeff Brooks of Duke Energy if the company exhausted all options before asking for the price hike. He said the rate hike is necessary.

"We don't take it lightly,' Brooks said. "We've done what we can to manage our operating cost and our operating numbers, so we can be more efficient as a company."

For customers at the hearing, it is a price that's just too high.

"We bought a house here in 2014, expecting this to be a retirement," said another customer. "The rates are getting so out of hand, we are looking to relocate again."

James McLawhorn with the NC Public Staff Energy Division is reviewing the case. He said they will likely advocate for a smaller hike and explains why an increase may be necessary.

"There are investments being made to strengthen the wires to add additional ability to monitor when there is an outage to reroute power so that customers have outages that lasts a shorter period of time," he said. "And those many of those investments have had been taking place for the last few years."

Some people at the hearing wanted the government to step in.

"I would like the Governor of North Carolina to interfere as they've done in others states by saying 'enough is enough,'" said a third customer.

The commissioners will hold several more public hearings before a decision is made, including a public hearing that will be held virtually.

The decision will then be up to utility commission, who will get the completed request in June.

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