The Duke Energy division that provides electricity for Charlotte and much of western North Carolina has asked state regulators to approve an average 6% rate increase.
Duke Energy Carolinas wants $291 million a year in new revenues to help pay for a range of expenses, says the company's North Carolina president, Stephen DeMay.
"One is to continue down our path of shifting to cleaner energy. We are improving grid reliability and resiliency and we are providing customers more convenience and more control over their energy usage," DeMay said.
Those include building new gas and solar generating plants, converting existing coal plants to gas, cleaning up toxic coal ash, and investing in new technologies to improve reliability and efficiency.
If regulators approve, rates would rise an average of 6.7% for residential customers and 5% for businesses. Duke says the proposed increase is lower than it might have been, because of savings from federal and state tax cuts that are being returned to customers. That's something regulators requested when they rejected a 10% rate hike last year. Under the plan, a typical residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month would pay about $8 more, or about $116 per month, Duke says. "We don't take lightly the request to increase rates but it is time to reflect in rates those investments and costs that we've made to benefit customers," DeMay said.
To help low-income customers, Duke says it's not raising the monthly basic service charge. And it is proposing to eliminate fees for paying by direct debit or credit card.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission must hold hearings and take comments on the request. Duke hopes new rates will take effect next summer.
Meanwhile, Duke says it plans to file a similar request within a month for Duke Energy Progress, which serves eastern North Carolina, including Raleigh, as well as Asheville.