Here’s What Customers Say About Duke’s Unaffordable Fee Increase

This is the first 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, especially single-income families and seniors, who just don't have the income to absorb the fee hike, which disproportionately impacts low-usage customers. Tune into part 2 of this series to hear from customers calling for more corporate accountability from Duke and part 3 to hear from customers about how the proposed fee hike would take away their ability to control their bills.

Chris Carnevale | March 5, 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 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 want to take it to the next level, 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!

“People can’t afford it and it doesn’t make any sense to me and my family I’m a single mother of 3 and 1 grand daughter and I’m on disability where I don’t even get enough to cover my bills so when I get my disability it’s sad that my bill is more than what I get a month” – Lisa from Sumter

“As a young single woman supporting a household it’s hard enough to keep up with the monthly bills of my home, my Duke energy bill being the highest. Every month I dread the text notification I get alerting me that if I don’t pay soon, my power will be eligible for disconnection. Having to go about my day, go to work and put on a face while I have that text looming over me is the most anxious I get all month. And now with this probability that it might increase, my anxiety is at a high. To a major company looking at it, yes, you will make ALOT of money… but to a hard working middle class woman, it seems like a big change that could affect more people than just me. I work hard to keep my head just above the water so I don’t drown, but I know others who are drowning and this type of increase would be devistating. Making life choices to cut out necessities because knowing your power bill will be extremely to high isn’t the way the world should be moving. Please consider the little people, who are just trying to live, instead of just being able to work and pay bills. Life is to short, and money is to evil.” – Jessica from Florence

“We live on a fixed income of about 12,000 a year’ between rent, electric and medications, there is very little money left to live on. That hike would hurt us tremendously, please reconsider. Thank You” – Deborah from Spartanburg

“My husband and I are senior citizens and have a fixed income. We just cannot afford astronomical energy increase.” – Mary from Florence

“Because in today’s world everything is going up except the amount of money people earn. It shouldn’t be so hard to just have necessities.” – Bernadette from Central

“Fixed income. Can’t afford the increase.” – Rosalee from Florence

“We are living on Social Security not enough money” – Christine from Pacolet

“Retired and can not stand any more power hikes we need a brake just draw so much” – Bonnie from Spartanburg

“I am a 71-year-old homeowner on a limited fixed income of less than 700 per month I struggle to pay my utility bills and eat each month as it is. If you have to raise your rates, please set something in place for the elderly out here fighting to just make ends meet.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“Im a single widow raising a teenage son on a tight fixed income n Can not afford anymore higher bills. Please Stop the hike.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“My bill keeps getring higher and higher im a waitress at waffle house and im hardly at home to even use the power but yet it keeps gettimg higher each month” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“Unable to pay the bill I have now, I make minimal wage and having trouble in paying my bills. Sometime I have to choice whether I pay the light bill or buy grocery or medicine.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am a senior citizen on a fixed income. Paying so much money for electricity will force me to cut my budget somewhere else. While I am fortunate, for now, many people in the same position end up cutting down on heat, or food or not being able to feed a beloved pet or even needed medication. That is just wrong.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“In other states it’s much more cheaper to heat and cool your home. My home is in desperate need of repairs and therefore already uses more energy. It has become difficult to pay my bills and it’s not fair.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am single and 56 years old. I struggle to make ends meet as it is. I can’t afford a higher utility bill.” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am on social security and I am 82 years old I can not afford a rack hick if so I will not be able to eat” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“The fees are too high now. Some months we have to choose food or power!” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am disable not able to afford a power hick I will be in dark and cold if it goes up” – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am on social security only make 600 a month how could I pay a rake hick”  – Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I’m a single parent household on a fixed income and will not be able to afford the increase.”– Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“It’s not right we already paying a high light bill. We need to save what money we can”– Duke Energy customer who prefers to stay anonymous

“I am a single mother barely making ends meet.”– 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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