A Win For Low-Income Utility Customers

Low-income customers will receive assistance after a group of wealthy industrial groups withdraws its request to delay a needed program.

Just two weeks ago, we reported on the sorry sight of a group of wealthy industrial groups seeking to block support for low-income customers. The groups tried to block North Carolina’s Utilities Commission (NCUC) from authorizing a program to assist customers struggling to pay for electricity.

Citizen advocacy groups cried foul on the big polluter groups—and the corporations appear to have been publicly shamed into backing off. Last week, the “Carolina Industrial Group for Fair Utility Rates” (CIGFUR) withdrew its request to delay the program. In return, CIGFUR’s attorney said Duke Energy has agreed to track the program’s costs and benefits. Furthermore, they will seek to maximize customers’ use of existing programs such as weatherization assistance.

Whatever the motivation for this course reversal by CIGFUR, it’s a welcome development. Michelle (Meech) Carter, our Clean Energy Campaign Director, worked to put pressure on CIGFUR. She said, “Many North Carolinians are faced with a challenge: pay their energy bills or put food on the table for their children. The [NCUC-ordered] customer assistance program would give much-needed help to the North Carolinians who need it most.”

Clean Energy Efforts

Additionally, last week Michelle (Meech) Carter spoke to Duke students, faculty, and clean energy advocates about the unique issues facing North Carolinians at Duke University’s Energy Week. As part of a panel, Carter condemned CIGFUR’s efforts, highlighted Duke Energy’s monopoly, and called on industry and the NCUC to do better.

Equally important, Angella Dunston, a NCLCV Board Member, also spoke as a panelist at Duke Energy Week. Dunston highlighted her childhood stomping grounds–Warren County–as the start of the environmental justice movement. North Carolina’s government placed toxic chemicals waste in a predominantly Black and Brown community within Warren County. The resulting protests inspired a national movement to address the injustices so many communities of color face.

To conclude, both Dunston and Carter encouraged attendees to be active and engaged citizens. They encouraged all to advocate for their own communities, as well as marginalized communities. Get involved in our work to protect North Carolina’s communities by protecting the environment!

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