Activists will gather outside of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on Thursday evening to protest a proposed rate increase by Duke Energy Carolinas, the second largest utility company in the United States and one that controls much of the energy supply in and around the Carolinas.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), the regulatory agency that oversees rates and services, is seeking public feedback on Duke Energy’s proposed rate hike through a series of public hearings across North Carolina over the next few months, including one scheduled for the courthouse at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Concerned residents will hold a rally in front of the courthouse in the hours leading up to the hearing to call on state regulators to reject Duke Energy’s rate increase and highlight the harm it would do to marginalized communities, according to a release from local environmental advocacy nonprofit CleanAIRE NC.
Duke Energy announced the proposal for a nearly 17% rate hike on household utility bills in March to cover the rising cost of fossil fuels to generate electricity.
“Fuel costs to generate electricity have more than tripled over the last year, which is a challenge faced by energy providers across the country,” said Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, in a March release. “Our rates in North Carolina are far below the national average, and we’re doing everything we can to keep customer bills as low as possible.”
If approved by the NCUC, residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would see an increase of 16.2% to 16.6% by Sept. 1, followed by a 0.4% hike on January 1.
CleanAIRE NC provided the following data on how the average household electricity bill in North Carolina would rise if the rate increase were approved:
- Stage 1: Jan. 1, 2024, a monthly increase of $12.54 from $115.01 to $127.55
- Stage 2: Jan. 1, 2025, a monthly increase of $3.90 from $127.55 to $131.45
- Stage 3: Jan. 1, 2026, a monthly increase of $3.18 from $131.45 to $134.63
“This means that by 2026, the average annual residential electric bill will be $240 higher than it is today,” the release reads. “A minimum-wage resident would have to work an additional two weeks each year to afford this. Expenditures of this magnitude place an unfair burden on households already facing financial challenges in an inflationary economy, particularly low-income and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities.”
Industrial and commercial and industrial customers would also experience an increase of 12.1% and 15.2%, respectively.
CleanAIRE NC asks that those who cannot attend the hearing in person submit their statements to the NCUC either online or via mail. The docket number for the proposed Duke Energy rate hike is E-7 Sub 1276.
“Community members will play a pivotal role in the decision-making process, influencing whether the outcome is supportive of a sustainable energy future that prioritizes affordability and environmental responsibility,” read the CleanAIRE NC release.
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