Duke Energy denied in attempt to raise fixed rates on customers in North Carolina

solar rebates north carolina

Duke Energy had big plans in North Carolina for a $13 billion capital reinvestment plan to modernize the grid and requested a $472 million rate hike to fund it (about 8.5 percent on average). The details of the plan and the increased rates didn’t sound too “modern” to North Carolina regulators who not only denied the request last week but also ordered the utility to refund $60 million in deferred taxes to customers and fined it $70 million for the way it handled coal ash.

Duke also asked to charge utility customers $1.5 billion over five years to close all storage pits holding potentially toxic coal ash. Commissioners said that wouldn’t happen until the utility records the charges in a separate account that the board can scrutinize.

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At $13.8 billion, Duke’s proposal would be one of the single largest capital expenditures by the utility and effectively double its Transmission and Distribution Rate Base – which is a major source of shareholder profits. To put that number in perspective, the cost of Power/Forward is greater than the total state revenue from personal income taxes in 2016. From Vote Solar:

Those rate increases would have come in the form of a fixed charge on customers’ utility bill, which reduces the value proposition of rooftop solar, battery storage, and energy efficiency — critical components of a modern grid. And because high fixed charges render customers powerless to do anything to reduce a major chunk of their bill, they inherently discriminate against low-income and fixed-income customers, whose energy expenditures are a larger proportion of their household budget.

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