Duke Energy wants to fast-track its rate hikes and cut public oversight out of the process. Some legislators are ready to hand it to them. But you can stop them. To speak out in opposition to the bill, contact your state legislators here.
Under Senate Bill 559, Duke would be able to submit a single request for up to five years of rate increases, based on its projections for what a project such as coal ash cleanup would cost in the future. Currently, rate increases must be justified on an annual basis.
Critics of the request range from clean energy and conservation groups to some of the state’s largest employers and electric customers. Walmart issued a statement saying the bill “could lead to unchecked electricity rate increases” and other large manufacturer group representatives panned the proposal as “greatly minimiz[ing] public voices” and “turning our system on its head.”
NCLCV Executive Director Carrie Clark warned the bill would “let Duke off the hook for justifying the actual cost of projects,” and noted that Duke’s president indicated the company’s intent to use the new process to stick public ratepayers with the cost of cleaning up Duke’s coal ash mess. “In other states that give utilities multi-year rate hikes, those utilities have inflated their cost projections and padded their profits at the expense of ratepayers,” said Clark.
“The fact that there’s no consumer protections and this huge price tag hanging up there is extremely worrisome,” said Peter Ledford, attorney for the NC Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA). “We think that the multi-year rate plans shift risks away from shareholders and to ratepayers.”
The bill has passed through two Senate committees, and could be heard on the floor of the Senate before the end of the month. Environmental advocates will push hard to stop the rush to pass this dangerous legislation, and insist on answers to the hard questions about it.
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