NCUC

Duke Energy tries to undermine residential Solar PV

Changing the rules in the middle of the game:

Duke Energy wants the North Carolina Utilities Commission to let the company pay for rooftop solar power what it pays for other types of generated power.

Owners of rooftop solar systems sign contracts with Duke Energy that allow them to sell surplus electricity for 11 cents per kilowatt hour, the same price households pay for electricity.

If individual residential Solar owners charged Duke the way Duke charges the rest of us (or tries to, anyway), they would force a much higher rate down Duke Energy's throat to cover the cost of their construction within a few short years. But that's not how it works. Even at 11 cents per kilowatt hour, the return on investment for a residential Solar PV array goes well past the ten year mark. But if Duke Energy gets its way on this pricing request, the ROI for many will be extended, adding years to the payoff, and causing many who are contemplating this to change their mind. Which is the (real) goal of Duke Energy.

Unnatural rate-hike for natural gas

Nibbling away at the monthly budget:

Piedmont’s first general rate case since 2008 is dominated by $1.2 billion in new costs to supply gas to power plants and meet increasingly stringent federal pipeline-safety standards.The company supplies 693,000 customers in Charlotte and other North Carolina cities including Hickory, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington and New Bern. Residential customers would see average bills rise from $710 to $785 a year, or $6.22 more a month. The new rates would take effect Jan. 1.

The hits just keep on coming for those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. And in this case, like many others, those hits are simply not necessary, and are designed to boost profits:

Denier Droz strikes again

E-mails from the edge:

A proposal to muzzle the Public Staff of the state Utilities Commission grew out of an email exchange between a staff attorney and noted climate change denier John Droz. The sponsor, Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, a friend of Droz, didn’t mention that detail Wednesday in a hearing on the legislation.

Of course he didn't, because he knows Droz is several sandwiches shy of a picnic. It's not for certain when Droz wandered from the trail of reason into the land of make-believe where fossil fuels are renewable and Madison Avenue (for some reason) decided to trick us into believing that clean energy makes sense. But I'm pretty sure I know why Droz started tilting at windmills:

Jim Rogers threatens to leave NC

This ain't helpin' your image, pal:

Rogers repeatedly assured investors he expects N.C. Utilities Commission members to treat Duke fairly in rate cases and other issues despite current anger over Duke's surprise decision to oust Bill Johnson as CEO. And he said if Duke cannot get proper regulator treatment, “we might not be headquartered in North Carolina in the near future.”

"Fair treatment" is a subjective and relative activity, Jimbo. When a convicted felon is released from prison, his activities are both limited and monitored. By the same token, when a businessman takes a step that calls his integrity into question, he should expect closer scrutiny in the future. It may not seem fair, but it is.

Roy Cooper butts heads with Duke Energy

Making me wonder even more about where Paul Newby's shadowy PAC money came from:

The N.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear Attorney General Roy Cooper’s claim that economic pain to customers wasn’t fully considered in Duke Energy Carolinas’ latest rate hike. Cooper is challenging a key factor in utility rates: Called the rate of return on equity, or ROE, it’s the profit margin utilities are allowed to earn on capital investments.

Highlighting another glaring contradiction between the faux-Libertarian John Locke Foundation and their supposed principles. The State guaranteeing profits for one corporation (especially during a recession) is the anti-thesis of a free market. They whine like puppies about the REPS, but don't make a squeak about this or CWIP (Construction Work in Progress), which allows utilities to charge us for power that isn't even being generated yet. Total ideological fail.

Jim Rogers dodges the national press corps

Too many uncomfortable questions:

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers postponed a National Press Club event scheduled for Monday in Washington, D.C. A Duke spokesperson says Rogers is very busy because of recent events with the Progress Energy merger.

I'm sure he is busy, at least until he gets his Romulan cloaking device fixed.

Duke Energy roasted by ratepayers

During an NC Utilities Commission hearing:

Duke's request includes a 17 percent hike for all residential customer classes. The largest group of those customers, however, would actually pay close to 20 percent more. Typical bills would rise about $18 a month beginning in February.

Like many reading this, I got my (legally required) notice from Duke the other day. When I saw the % increase for residents vs businesses, I said several bad words in a row, then shuffled them around and said them again. The suffering this will cause is incalculable, and should be summarily rejected by the Commission.

Duke/Progress merger may be costlier than you think

And a big chunk is coming out of your pocket:

The chief executives of Duke Energy and Progress Energy said this afternoon their companies plan to seek rate increases soon to meet a deadline to recover severance payments that will be paid to employees who lose their jobs as a result of the utilities' merger.

Now, I can see the stockholders thinking this is a good idea, but the NC Utilities Commission should have torn up this request on sight. If they allow this fleecing, the Commission should be disbanded. And maybe a little tarring and feathering to boot.

CWIP in action: Duke Energy to hike residential rates 17%

And the unnecessary and overly-expensive Cliffside coal plant is partly to blame:

The increases are keyed to more than $7 billion in plant construction and other capital costs planned over that span. “We expect the next rate case to be smaller,” Carter says. That increase, which Duke would expect to see take effect in 2014, should not include as much for construction at Cliffside, for instance, although it will include the costs of another natural gas plant.

Another part of this (mismanaged) equation is proof positive that claims Cliffside opponents made, that the coal-burning monster wasn't needed, were correct:

NCUC backs away from nuke plant rate hike

There may be hope for ratepayers yet:

The public advocate for North Carolina utilities customers has reversed position and will oppose — at least for now — any proposal to make it easier for utilities to recover some costs for nuclear plant construction before plants are built.

Aside from the fact that nuke plant construction costs are prohibitive on an astronomic scale, our current power surplus is so large Duke Energy is desperately recruiting power-gobbling data centers to suck up that extra juice. Our baseload is just fine, thank you very much.

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