Duke Energy wants its North Carolina customers to pay big rate increases over the next three years, up to nearly 18% higher for residential customers in some parts of the state. Duke Energy Carolinas made the request to the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) last Thursday.
Duke says the $823 million in additional revenue would help get started on the improvements in the electric grid and additional generating capacity it claims will be needed under the long-term plans recently approved by NCUC. The request largely tracks that of a similar request filed in October by Duke Energy Progress, the other major North Carolina subsidiary of Duke Energy.
North Carolina advocates for clean, renewable energy development don’t approve of the big-ticket requests, and say that Duke could provide cheaper, more reliable, and cleaner power by moving directly to higher reliance on renewable energy sources.
“[Y]ears of investment in natural gas and coal infrastructure have led us down the path of rapidly increasing rates,” said Ward Lenz, executive director of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). “Should the utility move forward with additional natural gas facilities, customers should expect additional rate increases in the years to come. Instead, we should invest in renewables as their costs continue to decrease, while historically volatile natural gas prices continue to increase.”
NCLCV Executive Director Carrie Clark added, “Duke’s latest request for a multi-year hit on families’ already strained pocketbooks shows why Duke needs to immediately drop its idea of throwing away our money on more expensive, unreliable gas plants, and go straight to clean, reliable, and affordable renewable energy, including solar, wind, and utility-scale battery storage.”