Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Duke Energy public hearing

... last night at County Square in Greenville, SC. The South Carolina Public Service Commission listened to community testimonies regarding the impact of Duke's latest proposed utility rate hike. Various politicians and local activists also attended, including your humble narrator.

At left, Les Gardner, development director for the Greenville Tech Foundation, claimed Duke contributed over $4.3 million to the school through its AdvanceSC program. His was the only pro-Duke voice I heard during the brief time I was at the hearing, although apparently a few other capitalist hacks showed up to appropriately genuflect to their big-money patrons.

These few were easily drowned out, but I sincerely doubt the Forces of Good will prevail over Duke Energy greed and their desire to suck money into building even more destructive nukes... as well as the all-important distribution of $45 million golden parachutes to their corporate shills/parasites. (Meanwhile, Duke can't even make sure its EXISTING local nukes are safe.)

From the Greenville News:
Upstate residents revolted against Duke Energy’s latest plans for a rate hike during a public hearing Monday night with state regulators in Greenville.

Hundreds of residents attended the night meeting at County Square for a chance to protest Duke’s request, which would raise home power bills another 16.3 percent by Sept. 18.

If approved, the rate hike would be Duke’s third since 2010 for about 540,000 South Carolina retail customers, including residences and businesses, most of them in the Upstate.

Duke says it has spent $3.3 billion for capital improvements to its electricity system in the Carolinas since its last rate hike in 2012.

As a result of that and other factors, the company says it no longer collects enough from its Upstate customers to recover what it spends to operate and maintain the system that serves them.
Members of the Public Service Commission, which will rule on Duke’s request, listened to numerous complaints during the hearing in Greenville County Council chambers, and not just about the proposed rate hike.

They also heard complaints about what residents called unreasonable late fees and heavy-handed treatment over delinquent bill payment.

Barbara Keeton of Taylors told commissioners that Duke executives were still getting their raises and bonuses. “When was the last time these people got raises and bonuses?” she asked, pointing to the crowd.

The leader of the homeowner’s association at Bear Grass Townhomes, a development for senior citizens south of Greenville, said Duke’s plan would force an increase in the association’s fees, because of seven street lights in the development, as well as raise residents’ bills.

“Residents living on fixed incomes do not need this burden,” she said, drawing applause.

Seth Powell, president of the Greenville County Taxpayers Association, turned in 600 signatures on a petition and asked that the Public Service Commission “put the public first.”

If approved, Duke’s proposal would add $17.83 to a residential bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. That would bring the total monthly bill to $118.28 and represent a yearly increase of nearly $214.

The Charlotte-based power company is proposing less of an average increase for factories, 14.4 percent, and a 14 percent average hike for retailers and other commercial customers.

Jeff Stewart, a contractor from Easley, asked why South Carolina hasn’t deregulated the electricity business as other states have. That way, “We don’t have to be stuck with Duke,” he said.
Now, there's a good idea.

At left: local folks listen intently during the Duke Public Hearing.

State Sen. Karl Allen, a Greenville Democrat, asked commissioners to balance Duke’s needs with “the needs of the people.”

State Reps. Mike Burns of Taylors and Leola Robinson-Simpson of Greenville also attended.

A representative of state Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville read a statement saying the proposed rate hike would put “undue stress” on residents, especially those on fixed incomes.

Duke hadn’t implemented a general price hike for 19 years until 2010, when it raised residential rates more than 9 percent while decreasing industrial rates nearly 5 percent. In 2012, the company was allowed another overall rate increase of 6 percent.
And from WYFF:
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Duke Energy is seeking to raise rates for the third time in four years -- and as hundreds of people file complaints, there is now a chance for residents to voice their opinion on the increase.

Monday night, a public meeting was held at Greenville County Council Chambers.

Dozens testified to the Public Service Commission regarding a proposed rate increase.

Duke Energy Carolinas has filed a request with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) for an increase that averages 15.11 percent.

Residential customers would see a 16.3 percent increase. The commercial increase would be 14 percent, industrial would be 14.4 percent and lighting would be 15.9 percent.

In 2009, Duke Energy asked for a 9.26 percent increase and settled on a 5.16 percent increase.

In 2012, the utility asked for a 14.61 percent increase and settled on a 5.98 percent rise.

"In the current economic situation, I think this rate is the most crass thing Duke Energy could do," said a citizen.

Duke Energy, the corporate parent of both Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress, said the new increase would boost the utility's revenue by $220 million.

Duke cites capital investments including fleet modernization, upgrades and new power plants as necessitating the increase.
Let's start with taking back that $45 million given to the CEO for working a whole 20 minutes. Do you think he's the only Duke boss making that kind of cash? I want to see ALL of their salaries, and then WE can make up an appropriate (and suitably frugal) budget for them. If they are a utility serving the people (without our consent or choice), they need to be managed by the people (without their consent or choice). Its obvious they can't run their own company, so maybe we should run it for them.

After all, when Oconee melts down, it will be US paying the price, not the CEOs with pricey co-ops in Malibu and Manhattan.


D. said...

Actually (and this is so unlibertarian of me), the CEOs of utilities running nuclear plants should live next to those plants. With their families. Gee, I can't imagine why they don't.

(Yes, I can. *chicken noises*)