- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has brought two more cases to the state’s Supreme Court challenging the North Carolina Utilities Commission's approval of Duke Energy Carolinas' rate increases, arguing the regulators failed to sufficiently study consumer impacts of their decisions.
- Cooper argued a 7.2% increase in 2012 would cost Duke customers $309 million and a 4.5% increase in 2013, which would rise to 5.1% after 2015, would cost Duke customers $235 million a year.
- Cooper’s arguments last year convinced the Supreme Court to send the 2012 rate increase back to the NCUC for reconsideration but regulators again approved it, agreeing with Duke’s argument that its profit margin must be big enough to qualify for the millions in low interest loans necessary to pay off the $11 billion invested on behalf of ratepayers over the past 25 years.
Cooper has challenged four Duke and two Dominion rate increases in the last two years. Opponents accuse him of having 2016 gubernatorial ambitions.
Cooper’s office argues that the NCUC has not sufficiently discussed or analyzed the impacts of the rate increases, calling its review “an indirect or afterthought consideration.” In the most current hearings, the Supreme Court’s five Republican and two Democratic justices were unspecific about how regulators could do such an analysis of Duke’s rate increase requests.
A Duke attorney, who said the 7.2% increase amounted to only a $7 per month average residential bill increase, noted that regulators had approved a Progress Energy $88 per year increase for residential customers only after considering North Carolina’s high unemployment and foreclosure rates and hearing objections from nearly 60 witnesses.