Protesters Stopping Duke Energy From Gaming the System

Posted on 07/9/2013 by | AARP North Caroliina | Comments

Mike LattaBy Andrew Behm

RALEIGH — The board game Monopoly’s Mr. Money Bags made an appearance on Halifax Mall, outside of the NC Utilities Commission’s headquarters in Raleigh, as Commissioners weighed the final evidence in Duke Energy’s rate hike request. If approved, the hikes could cost residential consumers an average of $14 more a month next year.

AARP NC is fighting to reduce, or lessen the impact, of a 5.1 percent rate hike, which if approved by the NC Utilities Commission, it would raise residential rates by an average of $14 a month. AARP members have been attending public hearings and have been appealing directly to the Commission.

Mr. Money Bags was symbolic of the corporate money grab that puts too much of a burden on fixed- income residents, especially seniors who have limited sources of income in their retirements. AARP North Carolina members, along with others, were there protest the proposed rate hikes by Duke Energy.

AARP member Mike Latta of Raleigh, was among the protesters with “Affordable Energy Now,” signs. He worries that each dollar taken away from seniors to pay for their utilities is one less dollar spent on other important needs, impacting the many businesses that rely on spending in the community.

Duke Energy’s rate hikes have been met with much opposition from watchdog groups that say Duke has been untruthful in their accounting practices and has gone relatively unpunished.  Protesters performed a skit in which Duke Energy was portrayed as the board game Monopoly‘s mascot.  The NC Utilities Commission was represented as a straw-man sheriff that wouldn’t do anything to stop Duke Energy until citizens stepped in to stop them.

If the rate hike proposal increases it will be the third time in four years that customers have faced higher bills and would likely see their bills go up around 14%.

AARP Associate Director Steve Hahn and several AARP members attended the protest to make sure that the voices of the 50+ population were heard.  Hahn said, “Duke Energy cannot be allowed to increase their rates again.  It’s harmful to seniors who are living on fixed incomes. Unlike Monopoly, we cannot let this rate increase ‘pass go.’ ”

If you weren’t able to testify at the hearings, you can still submit your comments by emailing N.C. Utilities Commission Chairman Ed Finley at statements@ncuc.net or mailing a letter to:

Public Staff — N.C. Utilities Commission

Consumer Services Division

4326 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-4326

Mention “NCUC Docket E-7, Sub 1026″ in your letter or the subject line of your email.

Photo: Mike Latta, back row center, among the demonstrators trying to stop the Duke rate hikes.

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