Duke Energy customers in Stokes County should expect higher power bills starting this month, as a recently approved rate increase kicks in throughout North Carolina on Monday, Jan. 15.
(The utility is not allowed to raise rates without the approval of the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Duke Energy requested increases over the next three years in January 2023, and they were approved by the NCUC in December 2023.)
Duke Energy Carolinas released a statement Friday, Jan. 12 that tries to give customers an idea of what the power bills are going to look like, how low-income customers can get help and what the company is going to do with the extra money.
They've also included information on new programs — that are still in the works — but are intended to help all customers lower their costs.
Rates will be going up by 8.3% on Jan. 15.
According to the statement, the power bill for a "typical residential customer" using 1,000 killowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month would be $130.29.
After the 8.3% increase, the power bill for that 1,000 kWh would be $10.04 more, which would be $140.33 per month.
On Jan. 1, 2025, the rate will increase another 3.3%, which would add $4.19 to the 1,000 kWh monthly bill for a total of $144.52.
On Jan. 1, 2026, the rate will increase by another 3.1%, which would add $4.10 higher to the 1,000 kWh monthly bill for a total of $148.62.
County specific information regarding the monthly average killowatt-hour usage or bill amount was not available, said Bill Norton, a Duke Energy spokesperson.
The statement referenced data from the Edison Electric Institute that said the national monthly average for typical residential customers was $171.67 as of Jan. 1, 2023.
How to get help
According Duke Energy's Jan. 12 statement, "The NCUC ordered Duke Energy Carolinas to establish a Customer Assistance Program (CAP) that reduces bills for the utility’s most vulnerable customers through a $42 monthly credit for 12 months."
These programs are administered though the county Department of Social Services office. To apply or for more information, please contact the Stokes County DSS office at 336-593-2861.
Those already enrolled will automatically be enrolled in Duke Energy's CAP program beginning this month.
Duke Energy's statement touted two new programs to help all customers reduce energy use and lower their costs; those programs have not yet launched.
One of those programs, "time-of-use rates" that incentivize customers to shift use during periods of low demand, is not yet available in this area, according to the webpage linked from the Jan. 12 statement.
The second, a "Tariff on Bill" program that is expected to launch early in 2024, would incentivize customers to replace inefficient electric HVAC systems or insulation "in a manner that ensures their annual savings are greater than the monthly cost of the upgrades."
What's it for?
The Duke Energy statement said the new rates include upgrades to make the grid more resilient and shorten the duration of outages.
The rate increase approval also includes "incentives and penalties to hold the utility accountable for reliability and other performance metrics," according to the statement.
“We’ve made significant infrastructure upgrades in recent years to meet customer needs and expectations,” Kendal Bowman, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, stated in the announcement. “This commission order enables us to continue meeting the energy demands of a growing region while limiting annual rate increases and giving customers more cost certainty.”