Duke Energy Progress is asking for a 18.9% rate hike. Here’s how to comment on the plan.

The following post by Lisa Sorg was originally published in The Pulse, a blog from NC Policy Watch, on March 13, 2023. For more on what you can do to stop this, see our Action Alert here.

Duke Energy says a portion of the revenue from a proposed 18.9% rate hike will pay for upkeep of its nuclear plants, like Shearon Harris, pictured here. (Photo: Lisa Sorg via Southwings flight)

The average Duke Energy Progress residential customer will pay an additional $25.55 per month for electricity by 2026, if the NC Utilities Commission approves the company’s request for a rate hike.

The increase is equivalent to 18.9% for a household that uses 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. It will be staggered over three years, with the largest surge occurring in 2023-2024, at an extra $14.72 on the monthly bill.

In Years 2 and 3, the increases in energy costs are projected to be $5.62 and $5.21 per month, respectively.

Commercial and industrial customers would pay slightly less, with average increases of 10% to 15%.

“Recent and future investments needed to transition to a cleaner energy future, achieve operational excellence and enhance customer experience have made it necessary to request an increase,” Duke wrote in its filing to the Utilities Commission.

Residents in Duke Energy Progress’s service area could pay an average of $25.55 more a month for electricity if the state utilities commission approves the company’s request for a rate hike. (Map: Duke Energy)

This new stairstep structure is part of the utility’s multi-year rate plan, a controversial provision included in House Bill 951. That legislation, passed and signed into law in 2021, allows Duke to charge customers upfront for future costs — such as transmission upgrades, storm-related repair and environmental compliance related to coal ash disposal — instead of recouping those expenses afterward.

At the time, bill critics warned that low-income customers, especially renters, would be hurt by MYRP because it allows Duke Energy to essentially lock in several consecutive rate increases without going before the Utilities Commission.

Where to attend the rate hike hearings

All hearings begin at 7 p.m.

  • Monday, March 13, Person County Courthouse, 105 S. Main, Roxboro
  • Tuesday, March 14, NC Utilities Commission, Dobbs Building,
    430 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh
  • Monday, March 20, Greene County Courthouse, 301 N. Green St.,
    Snow Hill
  • Tuesday, March 21, Robeson County Courthouse, 500 N. Elm St., Lumberton

Here are tips on how to give public testimony. Prefer to send written comments? You can send them here.

The 36 counties in Duke Energy Progress territory include some of the poorest areas of the state. Of those counties, 21 are designated as Tier 1 by the state Department of Commerce as economically “most distressed.” Most DEP territory lies along and east of I-95.

Nearly 28% of Robeson County residents live below the federal poverty level, census data show. In Lenoir County, that figure is 21%, and in Wayne County, it is almost 19%.

In its filings to the Utilities Commission, Duke wrote that it would use the additional revenue for several projects:

  • New investments in traditional and renewable generation and storage;
  • Continued investments to maintain remaining coal-fired and hydroelectric plants;
  • The addition of three battery installations;
  • Ongoing work to close existing coal-fired units;
  • Upgrading transmission and distribution systems to be more reliable, resilient, and to better support interconnections of renewable energy.