Customers facing unjustified mandatory fees and reduced control over electric bills
The South Carolina Public Service Commission will begin its hearing tomorrow to consider Duke Energy Progress’ requested revenue hike. The company is requesting to raise customers’ bills, part of which would be through a disproportionately high increase in the mandatory monthly fee. The hearing will begin tomorrow, Thursday, April 11 at 10:00 am at the Public Service Commission Hearing Room (101 Executive Center Dr., Suite 100, Columbia, SC 29210).
Duke Energy initially proposed more than tripling the monthly fee for residential customers of its two South Carolina utilities from $8-$9 to $28-$29, which would have had the effect of penalizing low-usage customers the most. Facing strong opposition from hundreds and hundreds of customers and other parties through written comments, public hearings, and legal filings, Duke Energy revised their proposed fee hike to $11.78 for Duke Energy Progress residential customers and $11.96 for residential Duke Energy Carolinas customers.
While the new proposal is not as outrageous as the original, it is still too high and it still reduces customers’ ability to control their electric bill. Worse, it is based on a faulty method of assigning costs to customers so that they are charged more than it actually costs just for basic access to power. Duke’s ill-conceived notion — that the utility is entitled to make customers pay more for basic access to electricity than it actually costs to provide that access — must be rejected.
Therefore, we urge the Public Service Commission to issue an order that explicitly reminds Duke Energy that commission precedent mandates that monthly fees should only include basic customer costs. A reminder of commission precedent should ensure that the customers of Duke Energy are never threatened with such an egregious hike in mandatory fees again.
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Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. http://www.cleanenergy.org
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit member organization that works side by side with consumers for truth, transparency, and fairness in the marketplace. The advocacy division of CR directs our efforts to secure strong pro-consumer policies and practices in government and across industries. http://consumerreports.org/advocacy
Sustaining Way is an interfaith nonprofit that empowers individuals and communities using education, collaboration, and workforce development to build a thriving, sustainable community and environment. http://www.sustainingway.org/
South Carolina Interfaith Power and Light is inspired by diverse faith perspectives to respond to climate change and to care for the Earth and all its inhabitants by engaging people of faith to work together for a just and sustainable future. http://www.scipl.org/
The League of Women Voters of South Carolina is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to making democracy work and encouraging informed citizen participation in government.
The National Association of Social Workers, South Carolina Chapter, is a membership organization of professional social workers that works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, and advocates on behalf of vulnerable groups served by social workers throughout the state. http://www.scnasw.org
For forty years, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center has been a forceful and respected advocate for low-income South Carolinians on issues such as housing, education, hunger, public benefits, domestic violence, immigration, health care and consumer issues.