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N.C. panel signs off on Duke Energy orders on rates, coal ash
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N.C. panel signs off on Duke Energy orders on rates, coal ash

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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Utilities Commission has signed off on orders involving Duke Energy’s two electric subsidiaries in the state over their 2019 rate increase requests and a plan for how the company will pay to get rid of coal ash stored in the state.

The regulatory panel issued an order Friday involving Duke Energy Progress, whose customers are largely in the Triangle area and points east, as well as in and around Asheville. A similar order was filed March 31 involving Duke Energy Carolinas, which includes Charlotte and most of western North Carolina. The two subsidiaries have 3.4 million electric customers in the state.

The two orders approved “partial rate increases” for both utilities after they had requested increases in 2019. Duke Energy Progress wanted a 12.3% rate increase, while Duke Energy Carolinas sought a 9.2% increase, according to commission news releases. Both utilities were allowed to issue temporary rates in 2020. The final rates haven’t yet been been finalized, but the commission said they will be “somewhat higher” than the temporary rates.

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The orders also approved a settlement announced in January by Duke Energy, Attorney General Josh Stein and a conservation group over how coal ash clean-up costs would be divvied up. Charlotte-based Duke Energy is working on closing all 31 of its coal ash pits or ponds in the state. The settlement would shift an estimated $1.1 billion in expenses away from customers over the next decade and to Duke Energy and its shareholders.

The orders also addressed how both subsidiaries can treat in their accounting books the costs for making improvements to the electric grid.

Duke Energy said in a statement Friday about the Duke Energy Progress order that it was pleased with the settlement agreements, resulting in a “decision that balances the needs of customers and the company.”

As part of the orders, Duke Energy said its shareholders also will contribute $11 million over two years toward efforts to assist low-income customers with their bills and make their residences more energy- and cost-efficient.

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