More than 50 area citizens spoke out against Duke Energy's proposed 17 percent residential rate hike Tuesday. But before the hearing, roughly 30 protesters, 13 of which marched to the hearing from the Occupy Charlotte camp one block away, performed for the local media at Charlotte's Government Center.
Check out the performance, which — admit it — was funny. To sum up: As Duke Energy demands that people "pay up" with the crack of a whip — regardless of the person's reason for not being able to pay (unemployment, not enough money for bills, etc) — the crowd, one by one, puts its money in the Master's box and collectively responds, "Yes, Master."
Please pardon the sound quality; in addition to this being my first video ever, the weather wasn't cooperative. Learning!
Here's more from The Charlotte Business Journal:
Many Duke Energy Carolinas customers who were eager to speak at a public hearing in Charlotte on Duke's proposed rate hike were turned away Tuesday evening.
The room available for the hearing before the N.C. Utilities Commission exceeded the maximum occupancy of 100 people well before the meeting’s 7 p.m. start time. The commission heard comments at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, but the larger chambers room in the building was in use by the school board.
Most of those who did speak at the hearing were in opposition to Duke Energy’s request. The proposed rate hike would impose an average 15 percent increase for commercial and industrial customers. Residents face an increase of 17 percent or more.
William Grantmyre, attorney for the commission's public staff, noted the rate increase may work out to be as much as an 18.6 percent hike for the typical residential bill.
Comments at the hearing addressed concerns that focused primarily on power-plant pollution's effects on health and the impact of high bills on residents and business struggling during difficult economic times.
Read the rest of this article, by Susan Stabley, here.
From The Charlotte Observer:
Both Duke and Progress are expected to ask for rate hikes again next year.
"These costs will make it even more difficult for our brothers and sisters to stay warm and well-fed," the Rev. Nancy Allison of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ told commissioners. She also predicted businesses will pass higher charges on to customers.
North Carolina's unemployment rate inched up in August, to 10.4 percent, well above the national average of 9.1 percent. The Mecklenburg jobless rate is 11 percent.
The Charlotte hearing was one of six the utilities commission has scheduled, with meetings to be held later this month in Marion, Franklin and High Point. The commission will begin hearing testimony from Duke and other formal parties in the rate case in Raleigh on Nov. 28.
Read the entire article, by Bruce Henderson, here.