Duke Energy Carolinas’ customer rates increase approved in South Carolina


Published on July 10, 2024 by Kim Riley

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The South Carolina Public Service Commission (PSC) approved new customer rates for Duke Energy Carolinas on July 3, and increases will begin next month.

The newly approved rates for Duke Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy that supplies electricity to 2.9 million customers across a 24,000-square-mile service area in North Carolina and South Carolina, are based on a settlement agreement with several parties in a rate review request the company filed in January with the South Carolina PSC.

The “outcome supports the company’s efforts to increase system reliability, diversity and enhance the customer experience while keeping rates below national average,” Duke Energy tweeted Monday on X, formerly Twitter. 

Beginning Aug. 1, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) will see an increase of about 8.7 percent, or $12.06 per month. Then, starting on Aug. 1, 2026, residential rates will increase another 4.3 percent, or an additional $6.42 per month, for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kWh.

Meanwhile, commercial and industrial customers will see an average increase of around 4.6  percent and 4.4 percent, respectively, starting next month, the company said.

The increase in customer rates — which Duke Energy says remain below the national average — is also needed to help Duke Energy Carolinas meet future energy demands for nearly 660,000 customers, primarily in upstate South Carolina. 

Additionally, South Carolina regulators also approved—at shareholder expense—$2 million to perform a study and convene a collaborative of stakeholders to evaluate regulatory programs and protections for low-income customers. 

The company said these would range from affordability programs to potential new tariffs and other initiatives focused on enhancing assistance for low-income customers.

Through these programs, Duke aims to help low-income customers complete health and safety repairs, which will allow for an increase in customer participation in programs that enable energy savings, such as the South Carolina Local Weatherization Assistance Program.

The agreement Duke Energy Carolinas has made with almost all parties, including certain consumer, environmental, and industrial groups in South Carolina, includes the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, the South Carolina Energy Users Committee, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Coastal Conservation League, Vote Solar, and the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

The company said that the settlement agreement approved by the PSC specifically includes recovering new investments in highly efficient natural gas, nuclear, solar, and hydroelectric units, as well as Duke’s investments in the grid and its new corporate headquarters. 

The PSC’s order also allows the company to establish rates based upon a return on equity of 9.94 percent and an equity component of the capital structure of 51.21 percent, according to the settlement. 

The final order also revised Duke’s recovery of certain environmental compliance costs, the only provision of the settlement agreement that wasn’t fully approved by the South Carolina PSC.

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