After S559 is amended, Duke Energy pushes for rate increases


There's more than one way to skin a ratepayer:

Duke Energy has asked state regulators to approve an average 12.3% rate increase for its division serving eastern North Carolina and the Asheville area. The filing Wednesday with the North Carolina Utilities Commission seeks an additional $464 million to pay for retiring coal plants, closing coal ash dumps, and improving the electric grid.

Duke says residential rates would rise an average 14.3%, if approved by regulators. A typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity monthly would pay about $17 more, or a total of about $138.

Don't let that "Ashevillle" area thing fool you; a healthy chunk of the people affected are not young urban professionals. Both Eastern and Western North Carolina suffer heavily from poverty, and this increase will push even more folks over that ledge. A higher electric bill *will* take food off the tables of many, especially those on a fixed income:

The average amount of food stamps for homes with elderly members is $125 a month, according to Feeding America.

In Avery County, Theresa Ollis receives a $741 Social Security check along with $15 in food stamps every month. After paying her $400 rent and $325 car payment, she has only a few dollars left a month for food and emergencies.

“Sometimes I don’t have hardly nothing left in the house to eat because it’s hard,” Ollis said. “If my son ain’t sending me some money to buy something on or do something on I’m pretty much broke.”

To close this gap, Ollis visits local food banks like Reaching Avery Ministry, where she can receive a week’s worth of food once a month. Reaching Avery Ministry director Janet Millsaps said there are many women like Ollis in the county who are struggling to make ends meet.

Bolding mine. I'm no math genius, but you don't need to be one to figure out she is not eating enough to survive, especially in Winter.



They can pay for those expenses...

by taking it out of the huge profits they make as a company. Last year, Duke Energy had a net profit of around $2.26 billion. They could easily absorb $464 million in costs and still be a profitable company, but that might affect their stock value and the bonuses of their executives, so they must pass that on to vulnerable ratepayers.

It's long past time that we returned public utilities to the public domain, where profit simply doesn't come into the equation.

I haven't checked their Quarterly

statements in a while, but if you drill down deep enough, you will find an "Acquisition" fund that they use to purchase power generating facilities and infrastructure, already in operation, to "expand their portfolio" or whatever. They like to keep around $30 Billion in that basket alone.

They've got more than enough money to clean up their coal ash messes, upgrade infrastructure, and still pay dividends to stockholders.