Get ready to see higher electricity bills if the North Carolina Utilities Commission approves a requested price hike by Duke Energy Progress.
Duke Energy officials testified Thursday before the commission and said the rise in rates is needed due to wear and tear on older infrastructure, increased demand, and the federal government pushing clean energy initiatives.
Duke Energy Progress covers large areas of eastern and central North Carolina, including Raleigh, and overlaps with Duke Energy Carolinas further west in the Asheville area.
The company was looking to raise rates by 16% over the next three years but agreed last week with NCUC’s public staff on a new partial settlement. The price hike would be lower, but it has yet to be determined.
The average Duke Energy customer would see an increase of about $25 a month by the third year under the proposed rate hike. That translates into an extra $300 if the increase is approved.
Company officials came under fire for rolling blackouts that occurred over Christmas. Executives repeatedly apologized and owned up to the situation that caused thousands in North and South Carolina to be without power during a bitter cold snap leading up to the Christmas holiday weekend. The admissions came during a January hearing before NCUC.
Company officials, including Kendal Bowman, the company’s state president, said the rate hike would help pay for investments being made in existing nuclear plants, new battery installations, and new carbon-free technologies.
She also said they are looking ahead with improvements for the future.
“We’re looking to make not just grid improvements going forward,” Bowman said. “We’re looking to make investments in things such as solar and storage and other technologies. It’s not just the grid that we’re looking at through the future and the multi-year rate plan.”
She also told the commission that the increase is needed in order to fulfill the federal government’s policy to reduce carbon emissions.
Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves central and western North Carolina, including Charlotte, Durham, and the Triad, asked for a similar increase in March.
If approved, company officials estimate the new rates would be in place by Oct. 1, and the largest increase for customers would be in the first year of the three-year period.