North Carolina Utilities Commission approves Duke Energy rate hike, settlement


The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved a partial rate increase for Duke Energy Progress, which covers electricity service in the Asheville area and eastern North Carolina.

Duke Energy Progress requested a 12.3% rate increase – equalling about $463 million – in October 2019, the commission said. The company implemented a temporary rate increase in September, which the commission said covered a portion of its request.

The Charlotte Business Journal reported in August that Duke Energy Progress planned to use its excess tax collections to refund customers to offset the increase, which resulted in no additional charges for consumers.

Duke Energy Progress said it is reviewing the order, issued Friday, and “will determine the exact impacts on customer rates in the coming weeks.”

“Our investments over the past several years have helped transition the state to cleaner energy sources, while keeping energy affordable and reliable for customers,” Duke Energy Progress said in a statement Friday.

Commission officials said in a statement the new rates “will be somewhat higher than the temporary rates that are currently in effect.”

Friday's order also approved Duke Energy's settlement with state officials and environmental group Sierra Club, which holds Duke Energy accountable for a share of the cost to clean up coal ash. It also approved Duke Energy's settlement with 10 stakeholders for future grid improvements to strengthen the grid, improve reliability and enable more renewable energy. Duke Energy said it would evaluate the costs in future rate requests.

The order authorized the company to seek savings to give to customers for storm costs incurred because of hurricanes Florence, Michael and Dorian. It eliminates direct debit and credit card bill-paying fees for residential customers and potentially green lights an income-qualified energy efficiency pilot program.

Duke Energy's shareholders must contribute $6 million over two years to the Helping Home Fund to provide energy- and cost-saving measures to its North Carolina customers, and $5 million over two years to the Duke Energy Progress Energy Neighbor Fund program to provide billing assistance to low-income customers.

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