The N.C. Utilities Commission approved an “Affordability Settlement” between the Sierra Club, Duke Energy Progress (DEP) and Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC), which resolves low-income affordability issues in rate cases filed by DEP and DEC.
As part of this settlement, DEP and DEC agreed to make shareholder financial contributions totalling $16 million over three years to ease the burden on low-income customers. A portion of this money – $6 million – will go toward the utility’s “Share the Light” fund to help people struggling to pay their energy bills. Another $10 million will pay for “health and safety repairs to address issues that currently prevent low-income residences from qualifying for weatherization or other energy efficiency improvement.”
In a major win for ratepayers, DEP and DEC are now required to collect and report data regarding health and safety repairs according to zip code to better inform funding allocations and ensure effective affordability management goals targeting low-income residents in need of energy efficiency improvements and affordable energy programming.
This affordability stipulation is just a piece of the DEP order, which in turn connects to the DEC hearing starting next week and the larger Carbon Plan Integrated Resource Plan (CPIRP) filed by Duke last week with the N.C. Utilities Commission.
In response, Mikaela Curry, Sierra Club field manager, said, “In North Carolina, too many households struggle to pay their energy bills. With the ‘Affordability Stipulation,’ we hope it will ease the burden of keeping the lights on for these ratepayers and their families, whose high electricity bills add to their struggle to make ends meet. This settlement will also be critical for energy efficiency improvements in these low-income households. While this is a victory for low-income families, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure Duke Energy doesn’t continue to increasingly profit while ratepayers suffer and bear the costs. It is critical that Duke shift its focus in a meaningful way to a much larger clean energy buildout that would benefit all customers and protect our air and water.”