Outrage and support for proposed Duke power bill hike - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Outrage and support for proposed Duke power bill hike

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Tuesday night the North Carolina Utilities Commission held one in a series of five hearings to consider public concerns as it tries to decide whether to pass Duke Energy's proposed rate hike.

The utilities company wants to raise the average residential customer's bill from about $95 to about $113.

A number of people protested the proposed rate hike both before the meeting and during it.

Elizabeth Kincaid says she works with a lot of seniors who can't afford the current rate, let alone a higher one.

"They sit in the burning heat in the summer, and they sit wrapped in blankets in the winter, because they're afraid they won't be able to pay their power bill," Kincaid told the utilities commission.

If passed, the increase will be the largest in North Carolina in twenty years.

Michelle Hamilton is Chief Advancement Officer at Crisis Assistance Ministry, and she says Tuesday morning there were over 300 people in line, looking for help with their bills.

"I would say in the last three years, we have probably seen a number over 300 only a handful of times," Hamilton says. "This is an all time high." 

But Duke Energy's Betsy Conway says the company's costs are at a high, too.

It is facing intense pressure to construct new pollution catching devices and clean energy plants. "There is a cost to all that," Conway says. "We are facing stringent environmental regulations."

Duke says it also needs the extra money to keep the power system reliable.

Still, there is an 11.5% return built into the hike for Duke.

"We believe that our request if fair for customers, and fair for the company," Conway says.

The next hearing will take place in Marion on October 25th at the McDowell County Courthouse. It starts at 7pm.

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