Duke Progress customers react to 14 percent rate hike - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Duke Progress customers react to 14 percent rate hike

(Source: Duke Energy Progress) (Source: Duke Energy Progress)
Duke Energy is considering a rate increase for customers. (Source: Audrey Biesk) Duke Energy is considering a rate increase for customers. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A proposed 14 percent increase in residents' power bills could go toward new highly efficient gas plants.

Still, that’s not the only reason Duke Energy Progress made the proposal on July 1, 2016 to hike the monthly rate.

A Duke Energy representative said no one wants to necessarily see an increase in their product ever, but they want their customers to know they don’t take this lightly, and it's happening after almost three decades.

Duke Energy Progress just submitted the proposal with the Public Service Commission South Carolina to increase their revenue by about $79 million, which is a 15.4 percent increase for residential customers and a 14.3 percent jump for commercial industries.

“When we have common area lighting and HOAs in condominium complexes that we manage, then we have no choice," said Elijah Jones, owner of Sonshine Management in Florence. "If this rate increase is approved, those budgets will have to increase, which could result in higher regime fees and HOA fees for my clients."

He added his customers will most likely look at the hike negatively. Most of his properties are serviced by Duke Energy.

“I will think of cost efficient strategies such as maybe turning off a light," said Shaquita Robinson, a customer. "You could invest in those cost-efficient light bulbs; they have those available. Or even turning off my AC before I leave for work in the morning. So yes, it will affect us.”

The proposal is also happening because of the recent investments Duke Energy has made with pollution control equipment and removing less efficient coal plants. Instead, the plan is to build smart energy infrastructure to fulfill rigid environmental requirements on the state and federal levels..

"The only thing that we can do is if the rate increase impacts our budget to a certain degree, the board or owners may decide to cut out other services that they are getting now in order to keep their assessment levels constant without those increases typically that would be called for with this increase cost of power,” Jones said.

If the proposal is approved, Duke Energy customers will still pay $12 less on their monthly bill than the national average. They expect a decision to be made by the end of 2016 and the new rates will go into effect by Jan. 1, 2017.

Duke Energy officials encouraged all customers to check out their website, especially if they want to attend a public hearing about the rate, or those who need assistance paying their bill.

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