Duke Energy / Fixed Rate Hikes

Duke Energy seeks base fee increase, undercutting thrift (Opinion)

Shannon Baker-Branstetter

CINCINNATI — “You should be able to manage your utility bills by controlling how much energy you use at home. That’s logical and straightforward. But Duke Energy wants to change that. If Duke’s proposal to significantly raise its ‘customer fees’ is approved, you’d lose control over a big portion of your future utility bills. Worse, lower income homes and seniors on a fixed income, customers who can least afford a bill hike, would be hit the hardest by this change.

Duke Energy’s plan is to nearly quadruple these fixed customer fees – from about $72 a year to over $270 a year – even if energy use decreases.

…Low-income households and seniors on fixed incomes, who pay a larger share of their income on energy and generally use less electricity, would feel the most pain. Raising fixed fees would mean low-income households and seniors see a much larger percentage increase on their bills than higher-energy use households. In effect, raising fixed fees would also force low-income and low-usage customers to subsidize high energy users. That’s unfair, inequitable and just plain wrong.”

— Shannon Baker-Branstetter, a senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports, Cincinnati Enquirer

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