Opponents of Duke Energy’s plan to raise monthly rates close to 17% packed a public hearing in Asheville Wednesday night. The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding a series of public hearings across the state to get ratepayer reaction to Duke’s plan. The average bill could go up close to $18 a month if the commission approves Duke’s request. It’s the utility’s desire to use some of that new revenue to clean up coal ash that had many in attendance angered, like Hartwell Carson of Mountain True. “It’s incredibly uncommon to write a blank check. The way it usually works is they do (the cleanup) and the request for a reimbursement for that work. In this case they’re asking for a blank check for future cleanup.”
A Duke spokesman says the coal ash cleanup is just a part of what all that new revenue would go to. The utility wasn’t presenting its case at this hearing. It will do that before the commission in November following the final two public hearings which take place next month. A final decision from the utilities commission is expected by the end of this year.