Duke rate increase triples fixed charge: How to voice your opinion

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Duke Energy customers could soon be seeing a bill increase.

There’s a proposal for a rate hike that could increase your bill by12% for homeowners (businesses would see an increase of less than 9%).

If you want to voice your opinion put these public hearings on your calendar:

– Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at 6 p.m. Spartanburg County Council Chambers, Spartanburg County Administration, Building, 366 N Church Street, Main Level, Suite 1000, Spartanburg, South Carolina 29303

– Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 6 p.m. Anderson County Council Chambers, 101 S Main Street, Anderson, South Carolina 29624

 – Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 6 p.m. Greenville County Council Chambers, 301 University Ridge, Suite 2400, Greenville, South Carolina 29601

Simpsonville homeowner Matt Wright isn’t pleased. This past month he had to deal with an “unsatisfactory” installation of a smart meter that left a mark on his home, and how the rate hike talk is fueling the fire.

”They’re upgrading houses that people haven’t elected and then upping their rates because of it and I just think it’s wrong,” said Wright.

We brought that concern to Duke Energy Spokesman Ryan Mosier who says the smart meter upgrade is just a fraction of what’s behind the rate hike request.

“We’ve made investments here in the Upstate including the new combined cycle natural gas plant in Anderson County which is providing efficient modern electricity. We’re also looking at a grid modernization that will help us prevent outages and restore power more quickly,” said Mosier.

The last Duke rate hike of 8% took effect in 2014.

What’s unique about this proposal, is that Duke plans to triple the basic facilities charge a fixed fee that would jump from $8.29 to $28 a month.   

Duke says it’s slightly reducing the kilowatt usage rate so a household that uses 1,000 kilowatt hours monthly would pay $15.57 a month more.

How does this compare to other local electricity companies?

Cooperatives like Laurens Electric had a facilities charge hike in 2018 of $2 bringing its total fixed charge to $12. Laurens Electric has also installed smart meters. Their rate of about 13 cents per kilowatt is similar to what Duke’s would be if the latest rate change is approved.

Broad River Electric has also upgraded completely to smart meters, and the facility charge of $24.50 a month, but its charges a cheaper kilowatt usage of 11.6 cents per kilowatt hour.

Wright worries that Duke’s proposal to up the facilities charge to $28 leaves families like his that work hard to conserve energy bearing the brunt. 

“Tripling that flat rate that has nothing to do with how much energy I use.  If I try to be energy efficient that doesn’t matter to them, they’re just going to get their money,” said Wright.

The Public Service Commission of S.C. is responsible for approving any service rate change request.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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