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Duke Energy, one of the largest providers of electric power in the U.S., wants to raise its rates 6 percent and is petitioning the North Carolina Utilities Commission to do it.

But there is opposition to the move, including from individuals, organizations and businesses.

Next week, people and businesses in Burke County will get their chance to sound off on the rate increase proposal when the Utilities Commission holds a meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 in the Burke County Courthouse, at 201 S. Green St., Morganton.

Those wanting to speak must register his or her name on a sign-up sheet in the hearing room before the meeting.

On Sept. 30, Duke Energy Carolinas LLC filed an application with the Commission requesting authority to increase its rates for electric service in order to produce an additional $445.3 million in retail base revenues, according to the filing with the Utilities Commission. For a residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the current monthly bill of $102.71 would increase to $108.43 under Duke’s proposal, according to the commission filings.

While individual consumers have sent emails arguing against the rate increase, companies also have put in their 2 cents, including Harris Teeter LLC.

Harris Teeter, in a petition to intervene in the case, said they pay Duke Energy for 24/7 electricity for food storage, lighting, heating, cooling and distribution. It says if Duke Energy is granted the rate increase, the cost to Harris Teeter for electric power service could be substantially impacted and it has a vital interest in the outcome of the decision.

In the filing, a representative for Harris Teeter says it intends to address whether the proposed rate increase is reasonable and justified and whether the proposed allocation is just and reasonable.

Organizations allowed to intervene in the case include the North Carolina Justice Center, North Carolina Housing Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The public hearing in Morganton is one of four hearings the Utilities Commission has scheduled to receive testimony from Duke Energy customers. The commission also will hold an evidentiary hearing, beginning at 2 p.m. on March 23 in Raleigh, for testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses, according to the case docket. The commission said public comments won’t be allowed at the hearing, but the public is welcome to attend.

In its application, Duke Energy gives numerous reasons why it needs the rate increase, with most being the cost of doing business. Some of the reasons include investments it has made since 2017 such as retiring, replacing and upgrading generation plants, investments to modernize and maintain the company’s transmission and distribution systems, deploying smart meters, costs from restoring service to customers after Hurricane Florence and Michael, as well as its reliance on coal-fired facilities and ash cleanup.

In addition to public comments at the meeting, customers can also submit a written statement to the commission at www.ncuc.net/contactus.html and include the docket number in the subject line. Folks also can mail a statement to the commission at 4325 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4300.

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Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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