Pressure Mounts on NC Lawmakers To Reject Duke Energy Rate Increase Bill

Pressure Mounts on NC Lawmakers To Reject Duke Energy Rate Increase Bill

NC WARN, EWG: ‘Duke is Public Energy Enemy No. 1’

WASHINGTON – Calls grew today for North Carolina lawmakers to reject a bill backed by Duke Energy that would allow the utility to increase rates on consumers and move forward with expensive infrastructure projects paid for by its captive ratepayers.

Several environmental groups, including NC WARN and the Energy Justice NC coalition, organized dozens of concerned citizens to lobby legislators today at the state capitol, in Raleigh, urging them to oppose S.B. 559.

The legislation, written by Duke, would allow the utility to use major storm costs to revive a twice-rejected grid “modernization” scheme to overcharge North Carolinians billions of dollars for unnecessary projects to continue its heavy reliance on coal, fracked gas and nuclear sources of energy.

“Enough is enough,” said NC WARN Executive Director Jim Warren. “It’s time legislators reject S.B. 559 and any future effort that would give Duke even more power over its already captive customers in North Carolina.”

“For years, Duke has been allowed to run roughshod over its ratepayers in North Carolina, jacking up fees, downplaying renewable energy and refusing to take responsibility for its terrible environmental record,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Lawmakers should stand with their constituents and against Duke’s bullying.”

Last month, EWG and NC WARN, along with Citizen Action Coalition of Indiana and Ohio Citizen Action, published a scathing report of a year-long investigation into Duke’s strategies and actions throughout its service areas, including North Carolina. Among other state-specific details in the report were numerous examples of Duke’s rampant gouging of ratepayers, blocking of state renewable-energy incentive programs, tiny investments in clean energy, and deplorable environmental record, including its effort to avoid coal ash cleanups at its facilities in North Carolina.

Last week, facing an enormous amount of pressure from Duke’s ratepayers in South Carolina, regulators voted unanimously to dramatically scale back an excessive rate hike proposed by Duke.  

That did not sit well with Duke.

One executive complained the utility had been treated unfairly when the South Carolina Public Service Commission ruled against the steep rate hike on its customers in that state. According to the Greenwood, S.C., Index Journal, in a speech before the Rotary Club, a government and community relations district manager for Duke said: “To use my bosses’ term, they spit in our face.”

During a call with Wall Street analysts, Duke CEO Lynn Good did not hold back her anger over regulators’ unanimous opposition to the rate increase, threatening to reduce future investments in South Carolina.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.