Fuel costs for customer needs nearly doubled over the past two years
Company acts to insulate customers from fuel-price swings
Also connects customers to financial assistance and cost-saving tools
GREENVILLE, S.C. – Duke Energy Carolinas is seeking to recover costs for the fuel used to generate electricity for South Carolina homes and businesses. If approved by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC), the average monthly residential bill would increase by 7.1% beginning Nov. 1.
The total monthly impact of these rate changes for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would be an increase of $9.23, from $129.36 to $138.59.
If approved by the PSCSC, rates for commercial customers would increase 5.6% and rates for industrial customers would increase 6.2%.
The PSCSC will consider the rates in a public evidentiary hearing where it will also hear the results of an extensive audit and inquiries of the parties involved in the case to ensure an accurate adjustment is made to billed rates.
Energy providers across the country have been impacted by a sharp rise in fuel costs over the past couple of years. In fact, over the past two years, costs for the fuel the company needed to meet customer demand nearly doubled. The company does not profit from these increased fuel costs and proactively takes measures to insulate customers from volatility. For example, Duke Energy Carolinas achieved $106 million in savings for South Carolina customers by aggressively managing natural gas fuel contracts to obtain the best price, significantly reducing the overall rate impact for customers. Also, carbon-free nuclear, which provides about half of South Carolina’s generation, and renewables such as solar and the Bad Creek pumped storage facility, which provide fuel-free energy, help mitigate fuel volatility.
Duke Energy Carolinas serves about 660,000 households and businesses primarily in the Upstate of South Carolina, including Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties. The company's other South Carolina utility – Duke Energy Progress – made its annual fuel filing in May.
Why bills will increase
Duke Energy Carolinas makes a fuel cost-recovery filing annually in South Carolina. The fuel rate is based on the projected cost of fuel used to provide electric service to the company's customers, plus a true up of the prior year’s projection compared to actual costs incurred. The PSCSC reviews fuel costs and adjusts the fuel component of customer rates accordingly.
Each year, this true-up proceeding is intended to resolve the difference between projected fuel costs, and what is actually billed to the customer. Some years, the company reimburses customers and reduces the charge to their energy bills; in other years – like this year – the shortfall from the underpayment is recovered from customers. The estimated shortfall the company will seek to recover when new rates go into effect later this year is about $265 million, which includes costs Duke Energy Carolinas agreed to delay for recovery last year to ease the impacts of these costs on its customers.
The increase for all customer classes in this year’s request is primarily driven by the increased cost of natural gas caused by national and international demand and tight supplies, plus the true-up component since the previous fuel cost-recovery filing. In other words, customers have paid far less than what it actually cost to power their homes and businesses, and Duke Energy Carolinas has financed this difference on behalf of customers. Now, the company is requesting reimbursement for these costs.
Helping customers save
Customers struggling to pay their energy bills might qualify for assistance from various government and nonprofit programs for utility bills and other household expenses, or from the Share the Light Fund, a Duke Energy program that provides energy assistance. Duke Energy also offers programs and resources to help customers, as well as flexible payment arrangements to help customers experiencing uncertainty keep their accounts in good standing.
To help all customers take control of their energy use, Duke Energy offers energy-saving tips and innovative efficiency programs for every budget. For example, the Home Energy House Call is a free in-home energy assessment that provides customers more information about how they use energy and strategies to save money on their monthly bill. To learn more about these programs, visit duke-energy.com/savings.
Duke Energy Carolinas
Duke Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns 19,500 megawatts of energy capacity, supplying electricity to 2.8 million residential, commercial and industrial customers across a 24,000-square-mile service area in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,600 people.
Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from electricity generation by 2050. The company has interim carbon emission targets of at least 50% reduction from electric generation by 2030, 50% for Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 upstream and downstream emissions by 2035, and 80% from electric generation by 2040. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2023 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “World’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
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