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Duke Energy seeks a 16% rate hike for eastern NC and Asheville

Duke Energy says it needs the rate increases to pay for improvements to the electric grid.
David Boraks
Duke Energy says it needs the rate increases to pay for improvements to the electric grid.

Duke Energy has asked North Carolina regulators to approve rate increases totaling 16% over three years for customers of its Duke Energy Progress unit, in eastern North Carolina and the Asheville area. Duke says the extra money would pay to strengthen the electric grid, improve reliability and prepare for more renewable energy.

Rates would rise 8.5% in October 2023, 3.9% in 2024 and 3.6% in 2025, or a total increase of $25.55 a month for a typical residential customer using 1,000-kilowatt hours of electricity. That would bring the typical total monthly bill in 2025 to $141.15.

If approved by regulators, those increases would be in addition to a9.8% increase on Dec. 1, which Duke requested because of higher natural gas prices.

And they do not include increases still to come to pay for new gas-fired plants and solar and wind farms proposed under Duke's carbon plan. The North Carolina Utilities Commission must adopt a carbon plan by year's end. Duke has said the plan could require rate increases of up to 27% over 10 years.

“Our customers count on us to deliver affordable, reliable and increasingly clean energy every day,” Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina state president, said in a press release Thursday. “We’re sensitive to the financial pressures our customers face, and we remain committed to keeping rates as low as possible.”

The company expects to seek a similar multi-year rate increase early next year for Duke Energy Carolinas, in western and central North Carolina, including Charlotte, Durham, Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

The three-year rate proposal is a change. Multi-year rate plans are now allowed under last year's North Carolina energy reform law.

Duke Energy Progress has about 1.5 million customers in central and eastern North Carolina and in the Asheville region.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.