After months of work trying to stop Duke Energy’s bid to pad its profits and raise rates with less oversight, the infamous Duke rate hike bill was stripped of its worst provision last week. And NCLCV members should celebrate because they played a key role in blocking it.
Senate Bill 559 received final legislative approval last Friday, and was sent to Gov. Cooper’s desk. The bill passed only after the House succeeded in removing a controversial section which would have enabled Duke to get three years of rate hikes in a single request. Bipartisan opponents of that change charged that it would result in unnecessary rate hikes with reduced public oversight, and that it would give Duke up to $140 million per year in additional profits.
Citizen conservation advocates pushed hard against the change, noting that Duke was expected to use it to push the costs of cleaning up decades of leaking coal ash pits onto the public instead of shareholders. NCLCV members alone sent 4,396 emails to legislators opposing the multi-year rate hikes.
The modified bill which passed both chambers includes changes in the way utilities can finance storm damage repairs, a move which was widely supported and did not draw the ire of clean energy advocates.