CHARLOTTE, N.C. — People in the Charlotte area may soon pay more for electricity.
Duke Energy Carolinas filed for an 8.3% rate increase for residential customers that, if approved, would go into effect in September, which amounts to about $9 more a month for the average bill.
Can utility companies raise rates on their own in North Carolina?
No, utility companies can't raise rates on their own in North Carolina.
WHAT WE FOUND
Duke Energy has to go through a rigorous process to change its rates.
"By law, we can only change fuel costs once per year," Bill Norton, Duke Energy spokesperson said.
Fuel charges are a direct pass-through meaning there's no markup and no profit for the company.
A general rate increase can be requested at any time.
"It is not based on very specific items, it's more of a general look. They file that at any time they want. There's no limit and they file that as often as they want," James McLawhorn Energy Division Director of the North Carolina Public Staff said.
When a utility wants to raise rates it has to submit a filing to the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), a government agency, justifying why it needs to charge more.
Then there's a period of investigation for all parties involved.
"The public staff is one of many parties that conducts that investigation. Sometimes we're the only party. It depends on the utility and how major the issue [is]," McLawhorn said.
We also reached out to the utilities commission.
"Utilities cannot raise rates on their own. All rate increases must first be approved by the Commission," Sam Watson, General Counsel & Director of NCUC, said.
WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR ELECTRIC BILL
Duke Energy provided the following tips to reduce your electric bill each month during the summer:
- Consider setting your thermostat a few degrees higher to save – raising the temperature by just 2 degrees will help reduce cooling costs by about 5%
- A ceiling fan can help make a room feel up to 4 degrees cooler than it actually is, but turn it off when you leave the room.
- Closing blinds on the sunny side of the house to reduce the greenhouse effect from sunlight
- Consider using a microwave for cooking, or grill outside – that cuts down on power use compared to an oven and avoids creating indoor heat that your AC has to overcome
- Switch to LED bulbs – they use a fraction of the power of a traditional lightbulb and produce far less heat
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