Consumers need to be taken into account when setting utility profit margins and evaluating requests for rate increases, Attorney General Roy Cooper said this week as attorneys with his office argued in court against a rate hike proposed by Duke Energy.
Attorneys for Cooper’s office appeared before the North Carolina Supreme Court on Tuesday in a case that will determine whether or not Duke Energy can raise its customers’ rates by 7.2 percent in order to guarantee a 10.5 percent profit for the company.
“Allowing double-digit profits when families and small businesses are struggling just to keep the lights on is wrong,” Cooper said. “The specific impact on consumers must be part of the equation for determining utility profits and rates.”
Duke Energy originally asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a rate increase that would have raised the average customer’s monthly bill by approximately 17 percent. That increase got reduced to a 7.2 percent rate increase, which the Utilities Commission approved but Cooper thinks it’s still too much for consumers to have to pay right now.
Hundreds of consumers wrote to Cooper’s office to express their concerns about higher utility bills.