Duke Rewards, Punishes Over Rate Hike Bill

Rate hikes may be on temporary hold today because of the COVID-19 epidemic, but there’s no moratorium on Duke Energy’s cash flow to legislators who backed their play to get guaranteed multi-year rate hikes, according to their PAC’s latest campaign finance report.

Senate Bill 559 was Duke’s attempt to exempt themselves from having to justify huge expenditures (for new plants or coal ash cleanup costs, for example) through public hearings and regulatory approval every time they wanted to raise rates. 

One would-be beneficiary of Duke’s political largesse was Rep. Elmer Floyd, who received the legal maximum $5,400 contribution from Duke’s PAC during his Democratic primary campaign earlier this month. It wasn’t enough to save the six-term lawmaker, who lost to challenger Kimberly Hardy. Hardy was strongly supported by consumer and environmental groups, including our Conservation Votes PAC.

Similarly, Duke is going big in support of challengers to incumbent legislators who opposed including the rate hike provision in S559. Those legislators targeted for attempted punishment by Duke’s PAC include Sen. Kirk deViere (D-Cumberland) and Sen. Harper Peterson (D-New Hanover). Our Director of Governmental Relations Dan Crawford expects deViere and Peterson to be the number one and two targets of the other party’s Senate caucus this fall.

But some conservative Republican legislators who opposed S559 are getting nothing from Duke’s corporate cash machine this year, unlike in previous years.Fortunately, there’s a clear way for concerned environmental advocates to fight back against the Duke money onslaught. Support pro-environment legislative candidates this fall by tracking our Conservation PAC’s endorsements, more of which will be announced in the coming months.

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