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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: New Duke Energy Rates

Jul 10, 2024 09:16AM ● By Donna Walker

(Duke Energy Photo)

New Rates Approved For Duke Energy Carolinas Customers In South Carolina

The Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) has approved new customer rates based on a settlement agreement with almost all parties in the Duke Energy Carolinas rate review request filed with the commission in January of this year.


The changes in customer rates – which remain below the national average – come after a lengthy and very public process evaluating a request to recover investments made to increase system diversity and reliability, enhance the customer experience and meet future energy demands for nearly 660,000 customers primarily in the Upstate region of South Carolina. 


The agreement with almost all parties, including certain consumer, environmental and industrial groups in South Carolina, was submitted in May.


The agreement was reached with the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, the South Carolina Energy Users Committee, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Coastal Conservation League, Vote Solar, and the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.


While not signatories to the agreement, both Walmart and CMC Recycling didn’t object to approval of the agreement.


Rate impacts

Beginning Aug. 1, 2024, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours will see an increase of about 8.7 percent or $12.06 per month.


Beginning Aug. 1, 2026, residential rates will increase another 4.3 percent resulting in an additional $6.42 per month for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours.


Beginning Aug. 1, 2024, commercial and industrial customers will see an average increase of around 4.6 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively (actual rates vary by customer class and size).


Officials said the net increase reflects the company's proposal to mitigate the requested rate increase by accelerating over two years the return of excess deferred income tax benefits resulting from the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.


This reduction would expire after two years.


Provisions of the settlement agreement approved by the PSCSC include recovery of new investments in highly efficient natural gas, nuclear, solar and hydroelectric units, as well as recovery of the company's significant investments in the grid and its new corporate headquarters.


The order also allows the company to establish rates based upon a return on equity of 9.94 percent and an equity component of the capital structure of 51.21 percent, as agreed to in the settlement.


The final order revised recovery of certain environmental compliance costs, the only provision of the settlement agreement not fully approved by the PSCSC.


Providing support for customers

The PSCSC also approved – at shareholder expense – $2 million to perform a study and convene a collaborative of stakeholders to evaluate a broad spectrum of regulatory programs and protections for low-income customers, ranging from affordability programs, potential new tariffs, and other initiatives focused on enhancing assistance for low-income customers; and to help low-income customers complete health and safety repairs, which will allow for an increase in customer participation in programs that enable energy savings, such as the South Carolina Local Weatherization Assistance Program.


Duke Energy has numerous current and proposed energy efficiency programs available to customers who would like to exercise more control over their usage to lower their bills, which could help minimize the impact of the requested increase.


Customers struggling to pay their energy bills might also qualify for assistance from various government and nonprofit programs for utility bills and other household expenses.


Duke Energy also offers programs and resources to help customers manage their usage to lessen the impact of rate changes, as well as flexible payment arrangements to help customers experiencing uncertainty.


Additional customer support is available through the Share the Light Fund, a Duke Energy program that provides energy assistance.


Duke Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns 20,700 megawatts of energy capacity, supplying electricity to 2.9 million residential, commercial and industrial customers across a 24,000-square-mile service area in North Carolina and South Carolina.


Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of America's largest energy holding companies. The company's electric utilities serve 8.4 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 54,800 megawatts of energy capacity.


Its natural gas unit serves 1.7 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky.

AESC Appoints Knudt Flor As CEO for United States, Europe

AESC, a Japan-based global leader in high-performance battery technology for electric vehicles and energy storage systems, announced the appointment of Knudt Flor as chief executive officer for U.S. and Europe and as Global Head of Quality.


He will be based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.


With a track record of leadership in the automotive and technology sectors, Flor brings over 35 years of industry experience to AESC.


Flor served as president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Corporation LLC, USA. Over his 33-year career at BMW, he held significant roles overseeing Operations, Engineering, Logistics and Quality for the company in plants and joint ventures in Europe, USA, Africa and Asia.


Among his roles, he was the head of Corporate Quality for the BMW Group.


Most recently, Flor served as the Distinguished Professor of Industry Practice at the College of Charleston and as SVP for Innovation and Industry Engagement.


Flor is also one of the founding directors of South Carolina Fraunhofer USA Alliance.


Shoichi Matsumoto, CEO of AESC Group said, “His extensive cross-border management experience and deep acumen will prove invaluable as we accelerate our efforts to bring the world’s best batteries to market. We are confident that Knudt will lead our North American and European operations to new heights, driving our commitment to innovation and customer excellence.”


Said Flor: “AESC’s commitment to innovation and sustainability aligns perfectly with my vision for the future of the automotive industry. I’m excited to work with the talented team to drive operational excellence, growth and deliver exceptional value to our customers.”


In his new role as CEO for the United States and Europe, Flor will oversee AESC’s business operations in the U.S. (which include Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky) and Europe (including France, Spain, and the U.K.), focusing on strategic initiatives to enhance local manufacturing capabilities, foster partnerships with leading OEMs, and support the growing demand for zero-emission transportation solutions.


In addition, Flor will oversee AESC’s global efforts to turn its cutting-edge technology into mass production net zero gigafactories that meet and exceed customer expectations.


Today, AESC’s advanced battery technology powers over one million cars across 60+ countries.

United Ministries Announces Program Closure, New Focus on Economic Mobility, Housing Stability, Homeless Services

After thorough analysis and evaluation, United Ministries’ leadership team and board of directors have determined that the organization will no longer administer adult education services as a part of its program model as of Sept. 20, 2024.


Operating for more than 20 years, United Ministries’ Adult Education Program has worked with hundreds of individuals to earn their GED and paved the way for brighter futures over the last two+ decades.


Located in the West End of downtown Greenville, South Carolina, United Ministries has been working for 54 years to create a Greenville community working together to ensure that everyone has access to the resources and the opportunities to thrive.


“United Ministries was founded to address critical community needs in response to area textile mills closing. Our work has always been guided by the notion of serving the most critical needs of the community," said Lizzie Bebber, executive director of United Ministries.


In recent years, United Ministries has seen a significant growing demand for initiatives that focus on housing stability and economic mobility, whereas the demand for adult education services has decreased post-pandemic, she said.


Bebber added, “This decision was not made lightly and reflects our commitment to strategically impacting the lives of those we serve in the areas of greatest community need."


She said United Ministries will work alongside its current adult education participants to ensure a smooth transition to partner organizations, such as the Greenville Literacy Association and the Sullivan Center, so that students have the opportunity to continue their journey to the GED exam.


"Our top priority is to support students, volunteers, and staff through this transition. We know that getting a GED is an important goal for many on the journey to economic mobility, and United Ministries remains committed to supporting our participants and greater community,” Bebber said.


Over the years, United Ministries has provided programs and services to individuals and families experiencing scarcity to meet basic needs, and supportive services to achieve self-sufficiency.


These programs have included direct crisis assistance programs such as Emergency Assistance, providing direct rent, utility, medication, and food assistance to those in crisis and a day shelter to support individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.


More long-term programming is also offered, specifically aimed at helping individuals and families exit poverty, including an evidence-based individualized Economic Mobility Coaching program, mental health counseling, and a housing program to support families with children experiencing homelessness.


"As an organization committed to serving the Greenville community, we continuously evaluate how we can best meet the changing needs of those we serve," said Sima Patel, chair of the United Ministries’ Board of Directors.


Patel added, "While it is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of our Adult Education program, we are confident that reallocating our resources to more closely focus on Economic Mobility, Housing Stability, and Homeless Services will allow us to make a greater impact where it is most needed in Greenville."


Originally established by local congregations to meet the crisis needs of people living in poverty in response to area textile mill closures, the agency has evolved to focus on providing direct services that serve individuals and families experiencing scarcity by providing basic needs for stability and supportive services to achieve self-sufficiency. 

Got A Call About Fraud Activity On Your Bank Account? It Could Be A Scammer

Did someone supposedly spot fraud or criminal activity on one of your accounts? Did they offer to help “protect” your money by moving it from your bank, investment, or retirement account?


Maybe they even asked you to share a verification code? If anyone did any of those things, it’s always a scam, according to Federal Trade Commission officials.


So, what do you do next? According to the FTC:

Never move or transfer your money to “protect it.” Your money is fine where it is, no matter what they say or how urgently they say it. Someone who says you have to move your money to protect it is a scammer. Period.


Never share a verification code. Ever. Banks and retirement and investment companies use these codes for online accounts to prove you’re really you. If you share that code, the scammer can use it to prove they’re you. No caller — especially someone from your bank or investment company’s fraud department — will ever ask for the verification code. That’s always a scam.


Stop and check it out. If you’re worried, call your real bank, broker, or investment advisor. Use the number you find on your statement — never the number the caller gave you, which will take you to the scammer.


And if you think your bank or investment fund will protect you, think again. Bank accounts have different (and fewer) protections than credit cards. If you are scammed into moving your money out of your account, you won’t be protected. 


If you get a call, text, or message like this, tell your bank or fund right away. Especially if you moved money or shared a verification code.


Then tell the FTC:

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