Don’t let Duke Energy raise our electric bills

Say ‘No’ to Duke Energy Carolinas’ Rate Hike

by Marina Courtney

North Carolinians now face a new challenge in the ongoing fight for economic stability and environmental justice: Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC), the second-largest utility provider in the country, recently requested a sizable increase of nearly 17% to household electric bills.

This rate hike would be implemented over a three-year period to cover the rising cost of fossil fuels needed to generate electricity. Rather than investing in renewables, Duke wants to shift this burden onto working families who cannot afford higher energy bills.

But we have an opportunity to prevent this utility giant from reaching further into our pockets. Throughout the summer state regulators will hold a series of public hearings across North Carolina, seeking community feedback on Duke Energy’s money grab. Let’s pack every room to show we support clean, affordable energy for all North Carolinians.

What Would This Look Like?

Households using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would see an increase of 16.6% to 16.2% by September 1, followed by 0.4% on January 1. A good example is as follows:

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

That means a typical household (at 1,000 kWh per month) would end up paying almost $20 more each month. By 2026, the average annual residential electric bill would be $240 higher than it is today.

Residential customers aren’t the only ones that would be impacted by a rate increase, although they would easily see the highest rate hike. Commercial and industrial customers would see an increase of 15.2% and 12.1% respectively.

A Money Grab Is Not the Solution

The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) is holding a Public Hearing in Charlotte on Thursday, June 22 beginning at 7 PM. All local and surrounding area residents are encouraged to show up in support of clean, affordable energy. Join us and our partners for a rally and press conference on the lawn/plaza behind the courthouse at 5 PM for a collective call on state regulators to reject Duke Energy’s rate increases. We’re asking everyone to wear a black T-shirt to express solidarity.

Upcoming Public Hearings

June 21st at 7pm
Burke County Courthouse

June 22nd at 7pm
Mecklenburg County Courthouse

July 24th at 7pm
Forsyth County Courthouse

July 26th at 6:30pm
Held remotely via Webex

July 31st at 6pm
Held remotely via Webex

August 14th at 7pm
Durham County Courthouse

For those interested in giving verbal testimony, information on how to sign up and give verbal comments at any of these public hearings can be found here.

Submit Written Comments
If you cannot attend the public hearing, you can submit written comments either online or via mail. The NCUC will accept written comment submissions through August. To submit your comments online, follow the link and be sure to include ‘Docket No. E-7 Sub 1276’ in your subject line. 

Comments can also be mailed to the NC Utilities Commission at 4325 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4300. Be sure to include ‘Docket No. E-7 Sub 1276’ in your comments.

For more details on the hearing agenda, click here

So, why should North Carolinians care about rising electricity bills?

It Will Disproportionately Impact Low-Income and BIPOC Communities

The proposed rate increase places an unfair burden on low-income and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals who already struggle to make ends meet. For example, minimum-wage workers will be forced to work two additional weeks or take a second job just to keep the lights on. This only adds to the financial pressure of living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to meet basic needs like access to affordable housing, healthcare, and education. If the commission approves an increase, add energy security to that list. Addressing the energy needs of North Carolinians requires an approach rooted in environmental justice and equity. 

Also among the most affected are our seniors living off of a fixed income. Elderly people are more likely to spend their time at home, especially if they are in retirement or have limited mobility. This means their utility bills will be higher than average. Someone with a limited income already allocated for essential needs like healthcare and medications will be forced to choose which bills are more important. This is why supporting energy affordability for all is vital. 

By prioritizing clean energy infrastructure over investing in fossil fuels, we can mitigate these disparities and maybe even create opportunities for sustainable development and jobs in marginalized communities. In turn, clean energy can reduce energy bills, create local job opportunities, and improve public health outcomes.

It Will Further Delay the Transition to Clean and Renewable Energy

It’s worth noting that Duke Energy claims it will not profit from the rate hike. Rather, they vow to protect customers from fossil fuel volatility. However, relying on obsolete and expensive fossil fuels is not the answer. 

Investing in fossil fuels, as opposed to transitioning to clean energy sources, is environmentally irresponsible and unsustainable. Fossil fuels are a leading contributor to air pollution that accelerate the climate crisis and pose serious health risks to vulnerable communities. By continuing to depend on dangerous energy sources, we postpone the healing of the planet and those that inhabit it. 

The Power of Community Engagement

The future of clean energy is within reach, but we need your help to get there. The upcoming hearing in Charlotte is the perfect chance to use your voice to represent vulnerable and underserved communities. Even if you cannot attend in person, send the NCUC your commentary. Now is the time to collectively work toward preventing further economic hardships and environmental inequities by pushing clean alternatives to dirty energy. It’s 2023; it’s time to prioritize equity, clean energy, and the well-being of our residents.