Duke Energy requests rate increase

Local

Duke Energy is asking the state’s utility commission for permission to raise electric service rates.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission held a hearing on the request Wednesday in Greene County.

On October 30, 2019, Duke Energy Progress filed an application with the Commission requesting authority to increase its rates for electric service in order to produce an additional $585.9 million in retail base revenues, an increase of about 15.6% over current revenues.

For a residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the current monthly bill of $120.44 would increase to $137.73 under DEC’s proposal.

In its application, DEP stated that its request is driven by investments it has made since its 2017 rate case including:

-Retiring, replacing, and upgrading generation plants, including the upcoming retirement of the Asheville Steam Electric Generating Plant in December 2019.
-The Company’s investments to modernize and maintain its transmission and distribution systems.
-Costs incurred to restore service to customers after Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Dorian and Winter Storm Diego.
-Deployment of advanced metering infrastructure, which includes smart meters.
-Compliance with environmental regulations related to coal combustion residuals, including ash basin closure activities to satisfy federal and state regulatory requirements.
-Depreciation rate changes from the Company’s most recent depreciation study, including efforts to reduce the Company’s reliance on coal by accelerating the expected remaining lives of some of the Company’s coal-fired generation facilities for depreciation purposes.

Additionally, the Company is requesting an accounting order for approval to:

-Continue the deferral for coal-related environmental compliance costs incurred after the February 29, 2020 cut-off date for this rate case.
-Establish a regulatory asset for the deferral of all costs, not included in this case, related to the —Grid Improvement Plan beginning January 1, 2020, for cost recovery consideration in future general rate cases.
-Establish a regulatory asset to defer $34.9 million of severance costs beginning when rates go into effect, to be amortized over a three year period.
-Establish a regulatory asset to defer Hurricane Dorian’s incremental storm costs.
-Establish a regulatory asset for the deferral of the remaining net book value of the Roxboro Wastewater Treatment plant determined at the time of its anticipated early retirement in mid-to-late 2020.
-Establish a regulatory asset to defer the incremental operations and maintenance expenses, depreciation expense, property taxes, and return associated with the Asheville Combined Cycle plant from the date the plant is expected to go into service, December 2019, until new rates go into effect.

The Commission has scheduled five hearings to receive testimony from DEP’s customers, as well as an expert witness hearing beginning May 4, 2020, for testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses, where the commission will hear from Duke Energy customers.

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