CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you are a Duke shareholder, you have a solid investment. Trading at about $75 a share and paying solid dividends, Duke Energy shares have increased since the company merged with Progress Energy to form the nation’s largest publicly traded utility.
But if you are one of Duke’s customers in North Carolina, the numbers are less rosy.
Duke will continue to push for double-digit rate hikes for residential customers and file an answer to North Carolina’s Attorney General who is trying to hold off last year’s hike.
“That rate increase is really tied to investments we made to build new plants in the state that produce cleaner energy, reliable energy, and they are plants that were pre-approved by the (NC Utilities) commission,” said Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers after a 90 minute Q and A session with shareholders.
Rogers hosted his last shareholders’ meeting as CEO after 25 years with Duke, although he refuses to use the word “retire.” Just as well, since the American Association of Retired Persons is fighting the rate increase. A spokesman protesting outside Duke’s Charlotte headquarters said Duke is entitled to a fair rate increase but not an excessive one. And the AARP views 11-14% hikes as excessive.
“Think about your mother,” said 72-year old Phyllis Jones of Charlotte, a volunteer for Greenpeace. “It’s going to be a lot of single senior citizen women struggling to pay higher energy bills.”