Duke Gets Rate Hike, with Some Low-Income Affordability Help

The NC Utilities Commission sides with Duke Energy and not North Carolinians.

In a decision affecting Duke Energy customers in much of North Carolina, the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) partially approved Duke’s requests for rate increases and increased profits for its shareholders. However, in a partial settlement with a coalition of parties opposing Duke’s higher rates and profits, the NCUC also approved a new program for assisting low-income customers make home energy efficiency improvements that will reduce their power bills.

“While we are certainly disappointed with other aspects of the commission’s decision, we applaud the approval of the customer assistance program, Duke’s additional $6 million contribution to the Share the Light Fund and $10 million contribution towards health and safety repairs,” said Claire Williamson of the North Carolina Justice Center. “Investments like these are important steps in trying to help North Carolina’s low-income communities meet their energy needs.”

The coalition of consumer and clean energy advocates included the North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Housing Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Vote Solar, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The groups intervened in the case to advocate for improvements to the proposed low-income program; challenge Duke Energy’s insufficient performance-based regulation proposals; oppose Duke’s exorbitant return on equity proposal; and advance an alternative to Duke’s expensive grid spending.

“The approved affordability settlement will help lower energy burdens for low-income households and support them in accessing new federal funding opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act,” said David Neal, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “However, the commission’s order misses many other opportunities to rein in Duke’s allowed profit margin and restrain Duke’s unprecedented levels of spending on the distribution grid, which will ultimately be paid for by customers, making it harder to afford the investments needed to comply with the state’s clean energy mandates.”

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