WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Progress Energy says it has asked the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a rate increase the company says would push residential bills up an average of 14.2 percent.
Progress Energy says the overall 12 percent increase, which would generate an estimated $387 million a year, is needed to offset higher operating expenses and the cost of building state-of-the-art, low-emission power plants.
The energy company says the proposed increase would raise residential rates more than commercial and industrial rates, more accurately reflecting the cost of serving residential customers.
"One way or another, they are going to extract the money from you and we all have to pay for our energy don't we," Progress Energy customer Rich Lehrer said.
The total net residential increase, as proposed, would average 14.2 percent. The bill for an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would increase to $119.94 from the current $105.15. That includes an increase in the standard customer charge to $13.50 per month from the current $6.75.
Customer Oliver Young said, "It really just makes it harder for me. I work a blue collar job. It's just tough, you know."
The average net increase for commercial and industrial customers would be about nine percent.
The largest portion of the request is for investments made to modernize the power system. Progress Energy Carolinas is retiring 12 coal-fired units at five sites and replacing them with natural-gas-fueled plants, including in Wilmington.
But with Progress also running a nuclear plant in our area, Lehrer doesn't understand why bills would go up.
"It doesn't make sense for everyone here in Wilmington when in fact we're nuclear energy. We're already low emissions, so it seems to me that we are paying for what they're having to do somewhere else," Lehrer said.