Here’s What Customers Say About Duke’s Fee Increase That Takes Away Customer Control

This is the third of a multi-part blog series highlighting comments from South Carolina Duke Energy customers about how Duke's proposed fee hike would impact them and why they are opposed. The comments today focus on customers for whom the proposed fee hike would take away their ability to control their bills. Tune into part 1 of this series to hear from customers, especially single-income families and seniors, who just don't have the income to absorb the fee hike, and part 2 to hear from customers calling for more corporate accountability from Duke Energy.

Chris Carnevale | March 7, 2019 | Energy Justice, South Carolina, Utilities

Duke Energy is proposing to triple the hidden, mandatory monthly fee on South Carolina customers’ electricity bills, from the current $8-9 per month all the way up to $28-29 per month. If Duke gets approval, customers would owe at least $336 per year before even flipping on a light. That’s the highest mandatory, monthly fee of any investor-owned utility in the nation, and it means customers would pay more for using less energy.

Since the fee hike would take away customers’ ability to lower bills by saving energy, it would disproportionately harm low-usage customers, including seniors, low-income families, and families who use solar or energy efficiency.

But this proposal is not a done deal yet. Before going into effect, the proposed fee hike must be approved by the SC Public Service Commission (PSC), which means it can be defeated if we speak up loudly in opposition!

The PSC has scheduled five public hearings throughout Duke’s service territory over the next several weeks to hear directly from customers. We couldn’t wait until the hearings to help highlight customers’ stories about how the fee hike would impact them and why they are opposed. Below are some of the stories from the Duke customers we have heard from.

If you are a customer and would like to share your story as well, please fill out the form here.

And if you are able to do more, please make sure to show up to your local public hearing (details here) and raise your voice and let the PSC know that customers need to be able to take control of their bills!

“Totally defeats the lowering of our power bill by using solar energy and energy efficient appliances! Thought that was what we were being encouraged to do to save money and the planet!” – Charles from Florence

“We pay too much already. Solar is gonna be my next option which is probably why they want to increase my bill” – Samuel from Timmonsville

“I work hard each month to conserve energy. Every month my house is one of the most efficient in the area. It seems I will penalized for doing a good job. In addition, I am a divorced mother raising children who works for a non-profit which means I do not have large salary. Thank you.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I just recently got married in May of last year. Finances are tight; my son is on the way and due in April. Conserving energy was one of my top priorities when I bought my home. I replaced the fridge & dishwasher with newer, more efficient models. My wife and I listed LED lightbulbs on our wedding registry and we converted all of our lights to LEDs to save money. During the hot summer months, we often did not turn on the air conditioner during the day due to the already high cost of our power bill. We have always tried to do the right thing and are not on government assistance. I haven’t gotten a raise in 7 years, but the cost of utilities, insurance, gas, and food just keeps going up. I don’t know how we are going to make it. One of my coworkers actually has cut off the power to his house at the breaker box & only flips it on to selected areas of the house when he absolutely has to; if rates were hiked like this, we may have to do the same.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“We have made our home as energy efficient as possible in order to keep our monthly costs as low as possible and have succeeded. As retirees, an increase in Dukes mandatory fees reduces our already fixed income. I’m guessing people are doing such a good job in reducing the amount of energy they use in turn reducing the $$’s paid to Duke, that Duke is looking to recoup their loss in mandatory fees increases.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I already pay way to much. I’m careful to not use too many lights to unplug appliances that i’m not using to turn on air conditioning only when I can no longer breathe because of the heat, and Duke Energy now wants more! Enough!!! I’m a senior citizen on a very fixed income! I simply can not help increase Duke Energy’s profit margin. again I say ENOUGH!” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am opposed to the hidden mandatory fee hike because it penalizes those who use less energy rather than those who use more. I also vehemently object to a nuclear power plant in our area. Actually, I oppose them period!” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

Chris Carnevale
Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Chris is SACE’s Coastal Climate and Energy Manager and South Carolina State Affairs Liaison. His work focuses on building a critical mass of support for…
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