Public hearings are planned Tuesday night in High Point and Wednesday night in Charlotte on Piedmont Natural Gas's first rate hike request in six years.
Piedmont is asking state regulators for permission to boost revenues by 9%, or $83 million a year. The company says that would raise the monthly bill of a typical residential customer by $6.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission offered more detail, saying a typical residential customer using 91 therms of gas in winter would see their bill increase from about $110 to about $122. In summer, a typical residential customer using 18 therms of gas would see an increase from about $29 to about $31 a month.
When the increase was filed April 1, Piedmont said the money would pay for expanding its pipeline system and other equipment, as well as for safety and security upgrades.
"Customer growth and our commitment to operating a natural gas pipeline system that meets the highest safety and reliability standards required critical investment over the past six years," Piedmont President Frank Yoho said in an April press release.
The rate hike request is the first since 2013 for Piedmont, which is part of Duke Energy. The company said the increase would be less than the inflation rate since 2013, and that gas bills would remain lower than those in 2008 because of lower gas prices.
But the proposal has critics. Several groups plan a protest at 5 p.m. before the Charlotte hearing at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. They say higher costs will be a burden to some consumers and will pay for "expanding fossil fuel infrastructure … at a time when Duke ought to be aggressively moving towards renewable energy."
Speakers will include former Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, Charlotte NAACP President Corine Mack, and Rabbi Judith Schindler. The protest organizers are Friends of the Earth, 350 Charlotte, 198 Methods, and others.
N.C. UTILITIES COMMISSION HEARINGS
- Tuesday, July 9, 2019, 7 p.m., High Point Courthouse, Courtroom 434, 505 E. Green Drive, High Point.
- Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 7 p.m., Mecklenburg County Courthouse, Courtroom 5350, 832 E. Fourth St, Charlotte.
- Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 7 p.m., New Hanover County Courthouse, Courtroom 317, 316 Prince St., Wilmington
Details about the hearings on the N.C. Utilities Commission website, NCUC.net