Duke Energy

Thousands of customers were without power in Asheville following a short but powerful storm that passed through the city Wednesday afternoon.  Blue Ridge Public Radio lost power around 2:50 p.m, but it was restored around 5.  At the height of the storm, more than 20-thousand Duke Energy customers were without power in the immediate Asheville area.  By 6:30 Wednesday evening, that number was down to about a thousand.  

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Power bills are going up slightly for Duke Energy households in central and western North Carolina this week.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission last week ordered that new rates for Duke Energy Carolinas customers can take effect starting Wednesday.

The order means residential customers will see a tiny increase on power starting this week. The typical household will start seeing bills rise by about 84 cents a month from around $104. Residential power bills will increase an extra 1.2 percent after four years.

Just two weeks after Duke Energy began taking applications for new solar energy rebates, the program has run out of money for homeowners and businesses for this year. 

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was among a bipartisan group of twenty attorneys general to urge Congress this week to do more to improve election security.  The move comes in the wake of President Trump's widely-condemned news conference in which he appeared to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence agency conclusions that Russia attacked the 2016 election.  Stein told BPR's Jeremy Loeb the president's behavior was "disgraceful."

Duke Energy

Duke Energy is in the process of completing the installtion of more than 1-million so-called 'smart meters' in Buncombe County.  The meters will allow Duke to record power usage directly without having to send someone to read the meter.  A handful of customers in Buncombe County have tried to opt out of using the meters - an action that has consequences.  Jason Sandford of AshVegas spoke with those customers to see what happened to them. 

Electricity rates will increase slightly for thousands of households in central and western North Carolina even though state regulators rejected Duke Energy's most recent rate hike request, the company said Wednesday.

Duke Energy will begin offering solar rebates Monday in North Carolina. Solar energy advocates say it could help speed installations of rooftop solar panels.

A string of decisions by North Carolina regulators this year means electricity consumers could be seeing a multibillion-dollar bill to clean up mountains of waste Duke Energy created over decades burning coal to produce power.

Duke Energy says state regulators' Friday order denying its request for a rate hike in its western North Carolina territory could still mean a small rate increase for customers. 

State regulators have rejected Duke Energy's request for a rate increase and instead ordered slight rate reductions in its western North Carolina territory, including Charlotte. The order doesn't say exactly what Duke's new rates will be, and it's still possible some customers could see slight rate increases.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says a proposed settlement that would allow Duke Energy to begin charging customers for electric grid improvements is unfair to ratepayers. That's in a filing with utilities regulators Friday in response to Duke's proposed agreement with a group of environmental and business groups.  

The state's utility consumer advocate and other groups are opposing Duke Energy's agreement earlier this month to limit a planned $7.8 billion electric grid modernization program.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission Public Staff, the environmental group NC WARN, and the Carolina Utility Customers Association say the program would result in unacceptably higher rates.

JIM WARREN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday quickly rejected a challenge to regulators who decided a clean-energy advocacy group broke electric-service rules by selling solar power to a church.

The justices heard oral arguments less than four weeks ago in the case involving NC WARN, which installed solar panels on a Greensboro church's roof and sold electricity to the church at rates below what Duke Energy Corp. subsidiaries charged.

Duke Energy’s first-quarter shares are up slightly from last year, according to an earnings report released by the Charlotte-based company Thursday morning.

Duke Energy officials defended last year's big pay package for CEO Lynn Good during the company's online-only annual meeting Thursday afternoon.  Good got $21.4 million dollars in salary, bonuses, stock and other compensation - nearly double her pay two years before.

Duke Energy says it expanded renewable energy generation by about 19 percent in 2017. That's according to the company's annual sustainability report out Monday morning.

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

North Carolina's attorney general on Wednesday challenged regulators for allowing Duke Energy to start charging consumers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up coal ash dumps and add a potential profit margin.

State Attorney General Josh Stein's office said in a filing to the North Carolina Utilities Commission he considers its decision to pass along what could total billions of dollars for handling the potentially toxic chemicals in coal ash to be "unlawful, unjust, unreasonable, or unwarranted."

Associated Press

North Carolina's highest court is deciding whether a clean-energy advocacy group illegally sold solar power to a church as part of its plan to undercut the monopoly of the state's electric utilities.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether it's legal for anyone other than a public utility to sell electricity in North Carolina.

Duke Energy customers in North Carolina will be able to get rebates of up to $6,000 each beginning this summer for installing solar panels on their homes.  The four-year, $62 million rebate program was approved by state regulators last week. It's required under a 2017 state law designed to keep solar power growing in North Carolina.

Jim Warren, Associated Press

North Carolina's highest court is taking up a case that could force new competition on the state's electricity monopolies.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the Utilities Commission's decision to fine clean-energy advocacy group NC WARN for putting solar panels on a Greensboro church's rooftop and then charging it below-market rates for power.

The commission told NC WARN that it was producing electricity illegally and fined the group $60,000. The group said it was acting privately and appealed to the high court.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Duke Energy Corp. will pay a $156,000 penalty for polluting ground and surface waters with potentially toxic coal-ash waste around three power plants, an amount one critic compared Friday to a couple of days salary for the company's CEO.

The penalty is less than a slap on the wrist for the country's No. 2 electricity company, which generated $23 billion in revenue and reported paying CEO Lynn Good $21.4 million last year, the Sierra Club's David Rogers said.

North Carolina isn’t rich in coal, natural gas or oil deposits, but it has more hogs than nearly any other state. And for many years, people have been trying to figure out a way to turn hog waste into electricity.

State environmental regulators are gathering comments on a proposed air quality permit that would let Duke Energy reprocess and recycle coal ash stored at the Buck plant in Salisbury, North Carolina. The 30-day public comment period wraps up with a public hearing Tuesday night.  

Duke Energy last week began generating electricity in eastern North Carolina with natural gas from a new source: hog waste. It helps Duke meet a state mandate, while benefiting farmers, too.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

Recently released data from Duke Energy is raising new concerns about contaminated water at the Asheville coal plant and others around the state.  BPR’s Jeremy Loeb reports groundwater at the Asheville plant had levels of radioactivity 38 times the federal safety standard.

Crews are already cutting trees in Northampton and Robeson counties to make way for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the 600-mile-long delivery system that will carry natural gas from West Virginia, across Virginia, and through North Carolina. The pipeline will cut an eight-county, 200-mile-long path across the Tar Heel State with supporters and opponents all along the route.

Duke Energy's board showed last year that it really wants to keep CEO Lynn Good on the job, boosting the severance package she could get if forced out the door and raising her reported compensation to $21.4 million, according to a company report released Thursday.

Duke Energy says it could completely phase out coal-fired power plants by 2050. By then, the utility expects to be generating electricity through a mix of other sources, including nuclear and gas-fired plants, and wind and solar farms.  That possible scenario came in a special Climate Report to Shareholders published Thursday.

Duke Energy has committed $500,000 to help replace inefficient wood-burning stoves in Western North Carolina.

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