GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Duke Energy customers’ rates will be increasing by 4.8 percent starting this Thursday.
“A little over half of [the 4.8%] are temporary rates that the Utilities Commission is now reviewing, the other half comes from a federal tax refund that is set to expire on June 1,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Bill Norton.
Norton said the company had a federal tax rate they were paying. That rate was later decreased. Once that happened, customers were refunded. Now it’s paid back, and he says this spike is actually rates returning to regularity.
“The thing about our temporary rate, if the Utilities Commission ultimately decides on a rate that is lower than what we’re implementing on June 1, then we have to refund that to customers with interest. We cannot set our own rates, unlike other companies,” added Nortan.
That’s a claim economist Mike Walden supports. He said because the company is a monopoly, it’s regulated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
“Duke [Energy] can’t do these cost increases or price increases, I should say, to consumers willy-nilly without any constraint,” Walden said.
“Their job is when Duke comes in periodically and says ‘Hey, we need to raise rates, here are the reasons,’ they have a staff that analyzes that and goes into the background and tries to figure out ‘Is this justifiable given all the information I have?'” Walden said.
Norton said this is one proposed reason for the increase.
“That $3 billion that we’ve invested over the past few years, we didn’t ask for you to pay for it then, this is when that bill is come and due, but you’re already benefitting from that in terms of saved outage time.”
“Whether you live in an apartment or live in a single-family home, you have energy all around you that you depend upon,” Walden said.