Meck Co. commissioner slams Duke over 'colder showers' comment

"I was fuming all day about it," Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A local leader was up in arms because of comments made by a top executive of Duke Energy.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham said it happened Tuesday night during an Urban League meeting about the company’s proposal to hike rates by almost 17 percent.

Cotham was at the meeting and took to Facebook to tell her followers that the North Carolina president of Duke Energy David Fountain said, “people can take colder showers to maintain a lower power bill.”

“I was fuming all day about it,” Cotham said.

Cotham said she questioned Duke Energy's proposed rate hike and voiced concerns that even a few more bucks a month can cause problems for people on fixed incomes.

“I was thinking of mothers with babies, so we are going to have to have a mother bathe her infant in the cold?” Cotham said. “I was like, 'How clueless.'”

So what would a rate increase mean to your wallet?

Duke is requesting an average increase of 16.7 percent for residential customers. That would mean an average increase of $18 a month.

“That's an insult,” said resident Mary King. “That's a big deal. That's definitely a no-no.”

King was not at the meeting but we asked her about the rate increase.

“If Duke Energy does increase your rates how does that affect you guys?” NBC Charlotte Investigative Reporter Mark Boyle.

“I don't know what I would do because I am on a fixed income and it would be a disaster,” she said.

We tried to speak with Fountain Wednesday afternoon but he was out of town.

However, a Duke Energy spokesperson released a statement saying, "The comments referenced by the commissioner were shared in a discussion about bill-lowering tools and incentives."

The statement on to say, "It's unfortunate that an elected official chose to use a personal social media account to mischaracterize information that was shared in a setting designed to provide transparency and information to local leaders."

We did speak with Terry McDaniel, president of Urban League of Central Carolinas. He told NBC Charlotte he was at the meeting and did not hear the comments Commissioner Cotham claims Fountain made.

Meanwhile, Cotham says she won't keep quiet about leaders who should be held accountable for their actions.

“We can't have this enormous gap between the rich and the poor,” Cotham said. “The middle class is disappearing.”

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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