Duke Energy files for 15.1% electricity rate hike—WOW!

Duke Energy files for 15.1% electricity rate hike—WOW!

Last week Duke Energy told the SC Public Service Commission that it wants its 540,000 customers to give it more money…a lot more money.  $220 million more a year to be exact.

Duke’s filing is for electricity rate increases for residential (16.3%), small businesses (14%) and industrial (14.4%).  In February of last year Duke received a 6% average rate hike.  If Duke’s gets the hike it wants, that would mean a staggering 21% increase to customers in about a year.

While Duke wants its customers to pay more, it is fighting in the Legislature to stop them from being able to pay less.  Duke and the other energy utilities successfully derailed a bipartisan bill just several weeks ago in the House that would have allowed third parties to finance and own solar panels on buildings and sell the electricity generated to the owners of the buildings.  Other states have successfully gone this route and taken away the biggest obstacle to more use of solar energy by residential and commercial buildings—the upfront cost to the building owner.

But Duke says no to this great free-market idea and instead wants it to be “studied” more.  Fortunately the idea will get more study in the Senate where 15 Senators on both sides of the aisle have filed the same bill (S.536).  The act is called the “Energy System Freedom of Ownership Act”. 

For those keeping score, 15 Senators is 33% of the entire Senate.  Duke and its energy buddies will have a lot harder time burying this bill.

But back to Duke’s massive rate hike request.  The South Carolina Small Business Chamber will be intervening to fight the increase.  We have the experience and a solid track record (from my personal participation with SCE&G rate cases) to take a hatchet to this over-stuffed filing. 

Stay tuned.  It’s going to be fun.