(The following is a reformatted version of a press release
issued by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper and
received via e-mail. The release was confirmed by the sender.)
July 1, 2013
AG appeals Progress rate hike
Cooper appeals 7.5 percent rate increase approved by Utilities
Raleigh: Granting Progress Energy a 7.5 percent increase in
power bills while many North Carolinians are struggling to make
ends meet is wrong, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday.
“Many people are already hard pressed to pay their bills, and
now isn’t the time to ask them to pay more so utilities can make
a bigger profit,” Cooper said.
Cooper filed today with the NC Supreme Court to appeal the rate
hike by Duke Energy Progress, formerly Progress Energy, which
was approved in May by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Cooper had previously opposed the rate increase before the
The appeal focuses not on whether Progress should be allowed to
recover its investments, but on whether it should be allowed to
raise customers’ rates in order to make a 10.2 percent
shareholder profit and a capital structure of 53 percent equity
in this challenging economic climate.
In the notice of appeal filed today, Cooper argues that Progress
failed to prove its case for higher rates and that the Utilities
Commission erred in approving the increase. The appeal contends
that the evidence experts put forward to help the company make
its case did not take customers’ interests into account, except
“at most, indirectly or as afterthoughts.” Testimony from
actual customers at public hearings strongly opposed the
increase as a burden during tough economic times.
As noted in the appeal, the NC Supreme Court issued a ruling
April 12 that agreed with Cooper’s assessment that state law
(NCGS § 62-133) requires the Utilities Commission to consider
changing economic conditions in setting utility rates that are
fair to consumers.
The ruling was issued in response to Cooper’s appeal of a 7.2
percent rate increase by Duke Energy. The Supreme Court ordered
the Utilities Commission to determine the impact on consumers
before setting an allowable profit margin and agreeing to raise
Cooper believes that ruling should serve as a guide for the
Utilities Commission in considering all rate hike requests, and
that the Commission didn’t adequately consider the impact on
consumers before granting Progress’s rate increase.
“Just talking about how consumers are hurting isn’t enough. As
required by the North Carolina Supreme Court, we need a true
analysis of what this rate hike would really mean for consumers
during these challenging economic times,” Cooper said.
Contact: Noelle Talley
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