Duke Energy Progress proposes to raise rates for area customers

Work to modernize power plants and generate cleaner electricity, responsibly manage coal ash, improve reliability and continually enhance service is at the heart of a request by Duke Energy Progress to change customer rates in South Carolina, Duke says.

Duke Energy Progress serves about 169,000 customers in the northeastern part of South Carolina, including Darlington, Florence and Sumter counties.

Based on these investments, the filing last week with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) requests to increase revenues by about $59 million, for an overall average rate increase across all customer groups of 10.3 percent.

“The electric power grid is the backbone of South Carolina’s digital economy – not just today, but for decades to come,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “Customers want safe, reliable and increasingly clean electricity. They also want more options and control over how they use energy in their everyday lives. We’re working hard to build a smart, secure and flexible electric infrastructure to better serve our customers and keep South Carolina competitive now and in the years ahead.”

The average rate increase for residential customers on their total bill would be 12.5 percent, while commercial and industrial customers would see an average increase of 8.8 percent.

If the proposal is approved, a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity monthly would pay about $142.72 per month, an increase of about $17.91. Duke Energy Progress has requested options to spread recovery of certain costs over multiple years to reduce the immediate impact on customer bills.

The company is making strategic, data-driven investments to improve reliability and harden the grid against severe weather, protect against cyber and physical threats, use more solar and clean energy, and provide customers with the information they need to make better energy choices and save money, the company says.

As part of its work to deliver electricity that is cleaner than ever, Duke Energy has retired coal plants across the system – Duke Energy no longer operates coal plants anywhere in South Carolina. The company is providing customers with increasingly clean energy from state-of-the-art, carbon-free nuclear plants and new, highly-efficient natural gas and utility-scale solar energy projects. Nearly half of the electricity generated by Duke Energy in the Carolinas last year came from carbon-free resources, including hydro-electric facilities.

Duke Energy Progress says it is deploying a new customer information system to give customers more information and options, and improve the overall customer experience; installing smart meters to give customers intelligent information to help them make smart choices to save energy and money before their bill is due, as well as improve the company’s outage response when an outage occurs; seeking to offer customers the option of a pre-payment plan that can eliminate the need for deposits; and proposing the elimination of convenience charges for residential customers every time they use a credit or a debit card to make a payment.

Duke Energy Progress says it will demonstrate to the PSCSC why the proposed increase is appropriate through a public review process that includes an opportunity for public comment. There will also be a final evidentiary hearing in Columbia, where the commission will consider written and oral testimony. Duke Energy Progress has requested that new rates, as approved by the PSCSC, go into effect June 1, 2019.

Author: Rachel Howell

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