North Carolina Supreme Court rules on Duke Energy mandatory fee appeal
Late last week, the North Carolina Supreme Court issued an opinion in an appeal upholding the North Carolina Utilities Commission’s decision to approve an increase in mandatory fees paid by residential customers of Duke Energy Carolinas.
“At a time when many households are struggling to pay their electricity bills, the court’s decision undercuts customers’ ability to control their bills with clean energy solutions like energy efficiency,” says Attorney Gudrun Thompson. “We are disappointed that the court has upheld the Utilities Commission’s unsupported decision to approve a hike in the mandatory monthly fee that all Duke Energy Carolinas customers must pay.”
SELC represented several of the groups that appealed the decision.
At a time when many households are struggling to pay their electricity bills, the court’s decision undercuts customers’ ability to control their bills with clean energy solutions like energy efficiency.Attorney Gudrun Thompson
In 2018, the utilities commission approved an increase in the mandatory monthly fee on residential customer bills from $11.80 to $14.00. Clean energy and low-income advocates appealed the increase because it would diminish the incentive for households to invest in energy efficiency and solar energy, and would disproportionately burden low-income households.
“Two and a half years ago, the Utilities Commission’s approval of a rate hike that was unsupported by the evidence was a blow to North Carolina’s energy consumers,” says Peter Ledford, general counsel and directory of policy for NCSEA, one of the groups that appealed the Utilities Commission’s decision.
Adds Ledford, “NCSEA was hopeful that the North Carolina Supreme Court would acknowledge the unjust and unsupported nature of this rate hike and reverse the Utilities Commission’s decision. Instead, the court added insult to injury in upholding a rate hike during a pandemic and economic downturn.”