Final public hearing on Duke Energy rate hike held

July 2, 2013 8:12:57 PM PDT
The public got a last chance to sound off on a deal that will allow a Duke Energy subsidiary to raise power rates Tuesday evening in Hillsborough.

The company wants a 4.5 percent increase that grows to 5.1 percent after two years.

A little more than two dozen demonstrators didn't let a dreary drizzle dampen their message. They held signs and chanted against the rate increase. They called a proposed rate-hike audacious at best and greedy and environmentally harmful at worst.

"Protect us from the rapacious greed of Duke Energy," said Chapel Hill resident Gary Wallick.

"Duke Energy wants to build more climate wrecking plants that we don't need while holding back thousands of clean energy and weatherization jobs," said Carrboro resident Steven Gear.

Under a settlement with the state's public staff, Duke Energy would raise its overall rates 4.5 percent for the first two years, and increase them a little more than 5 percent after that. The company says the average residential customer would pay $7.60 more per month.

"The proposed rate increase is needed to pay for the billions in investments that we have made to build new, cleaner, more reliable and more environmentally friendly plants," said Duke Energy spokesperson Lisa Parrish.

The proposal would pay for upgrades at two nuclear stations -- including the McGuire plant in Mecklenburg County, and two brand new stations.

Even though the settlement calls for Duke Energy to donate $10 million to programs for low-income customers, many fear a hike would burden seniors and others on fixed incomes even more during a tough economy.

"I urge you to say no to this rate hike as the raging grannies say, 'No rate hike. No way,'" said Durham resident Vicki Ryder.

A ruling on the proposed rate hike could come by September. It would then go into effect immediately.

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