On Thursday, the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved a plan by Duke Energy to raise the rates of former Progress Energy residential customers by 7.5 percent. The plan also calls for business rates to go up 5.5 percent and industrial rates between 3.6 and 5.1 percent. In response, Attorney General Roy Cooper stated that the rate hike ignored a recent state Supreme Court ruling that rejected a 7.2 percent increase. The decision will now be appealed in hopes of blocking it from going into effect. According to Cooper:
“This order puts utility profits ahead of people,” he said in a statement. “It talks about how much consumers are hurting but sticks them with higher rates anyway. A true analysis of the effect on struggling consumers, as required by the North Carolina Supreme Court, should result in lower rates. So, we plan to appeal this ruling.”
Paul Newton, the North Carolina president for Duke Energy made the following statement in defense of the rate change:
“It is important to note that the (court) order is limited to the commission’s consideration of the ‘proper’ return on equity. It does not require any changes to the current rates and rate structure approved by the commission last year.”
Duke Energy, the nation’s largest electric power holding company, is based in Charlotte, NC. They have assets in the United States, Canada, and Latin America. On July 2, 2012 the company merged with Progress Energy, giving it a customer base of 7 million across 6 states.