• Duke Energy may ask lawmakers for customer rate hike to overhaul power grid


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy has a $13 billion plan to overhaul its power grid across North Carolina.

    The goal is to protect customers’ power from going out during strong storms like Hurricane Michael, but it could cause your bill to skyrocket.

    [North Carolina regulators deny Duke Energy rate increase request]

    Lawmakers may be asked to approve the largest rate hike ever in the state.

    Last summer, Duke Energy Carolinas asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission to raise rates to help pay for the improvements to the grid.

    "Our customers have expressed an interest in more renewable energy sources and more innovative technology like electric vehicles they'd like to see on the grid,” Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said.

    The utilities commission said, “No” to the request that would have added about 25 percent to customer rates in 10 years.

    The commission said it didn't have authority to establish the yearly rate hikes Duke Energy wanted to pay for the changes.

    Groups opposed to the plan call it a scheme by Duke Energy to create a new revenue stream.

    Some are concerned the company could go to lawmakers asking them to change the law to allow the hike to take place.

    Brooks said the company’s focus is to work with stakeholders to come up with a plan that works for everyone.

    "We haven't made a decision on how to proceed yet," Brooks said.

    Sen. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, said he is all for improving the grid.

    “Reliable energy is absolutely critical to our economy and affordability is critical to our community,” he said.

    He would be apprehensive when it comes to going around the process that has already been put in place to approve the rate hikes.

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