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Greenville Business Magazine

Opinion: Upstate Forever stands against Duke’s plan to increase fees

Upstate Forever stands against Duke Energy’s plan to charge its South Carolina Duke Energy Carolinas customers the highest mandatory fees of any investor-owned utility in the country.  The planned increase would more than triple the mandatory fee included on each customers’ monthly bill from $8.29 to $28.00.  

If approved, this increase means more than just a higher bill.  It can be the difference between having power at home and disconnection.  

The fee increase would place unfair burdens upon low-usage customers who can least afford higher bills.  This includes seniors (who often live on a fixed income), low-income families, and communities of color.  Since this fee must be paid each month, no matter how much or how little electricity is used, customers would have to pay at least $336 per year before even flipping on a light switch.  Low and fixed-income customers would be hit the hardest by this regressive fee increase because they use less electricity than higher-income families. 

These mandatory fees discourage energy savings because they take away the choice to control what you pay through your own energy use.  These mandatory fees also get in the way of the innovation that we need for the development of a future powered by clean energy.  Increased mandatory fees make it more costly to invest in energy-saving steps like better insulation or a more efficient heat pump.  At the same time, Duke Energy’s regressive new mandatory fee would make it much more expensive to adopt rooftop solar power, a growing opportunity to improve the health of our communities and the source of new, good-paying, green jobs.  The result of making these energy-saving investments harder is an increase in the utility’s costs to serve all consumers.

Three public hearings have been scheduled by the Public Service Commission on the topic of Duke Energy’s proposed rate increase. Before going into effect, the new mandatory fee must be approved by the Commission.

We urge you to make plans to attend these hearings as a Duke Energy customer and share with the S.C. Public Service Commission why you, as a Duke Energy customer, are against the proposed mandatory fixed charge increase and how exactly such an increase would affect you, your family, and your ability to avoid disconnection, save money through efficiency and conservation measures, and reasonably afford to invest in clean energy like solar.

Duke Energy Carolinas Public Night Hearings (all begin at 6:00 pm)

Tuesday, March 12: Spartanburg County Council Chambers, Spartanburg County Admin. Bldg., 366 N. Church St., Main Level, Ste. 1000, Spartanburg, SC 29303
Wednesday, March 13: Anderson County Council Chambers, 101 S Main Street, Anderson, SC 29624
Thursday, March 14: Greenville County Council Chambers, 301 University Ridge, Ste. 2400, Greenville, SC 29601

Upstate Forever is a nonprofit conservation organization that protects critical lands, waters, and the unique character of the Upstate of South Carolina. Our three program areas are Land Conservation, Clean Water, and Land Planning & Policy.  Founded in 1998, Upstate Forever has two offices, and a staff of 20. For more information, visit