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  • Writer's pictureFaith in Place Action Fund

Duke Energy's Massive Rate Hike Proposal

On April 4, 2024, Duke Energy, one of Indiana's five Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs), filed a rate case (Cause No. 46038) with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). Duke Energy, the largest IOU in Indiana, serves people in 69 of the state's 92 counties.

The proposed rate increases by Duke Energy are substantial. However, this rate case impacts more than just Duke’s customers. If approved, it will expand Indiana's carbon footprint, kicking the can down the road for renewable energy while costing consumers hundreds of dollars a year more in electricity bills.

The good news is that Duke Energy’s rate case is merely a proposal. The IURC can mandate changes to it. The extent of these changes will largely depend on feedback from ratepayers and the public.

The Problems With Duke's Plan

1) Monster Rate Increases Affecting Residents, Houses of Worship, and Other Customers!

Proposed rate increases are massive. According to calculations by the Citizens Action Coalition, the average residential customer will face an additional $42 per month starting in March 2025, followed by a second increase in January 2026.

This increase places an extra burden on seniors with fixed incomes, families with low-to-moderate incomes, and other vulnerable Hoosiers, forcing them to tighten already strained budgets or risk electricity shutoffs.

Large rate increases are also planned for other customer groups, including houses of worship, small businesses, and non-profits, which, like residential customers, may already struggle to cover utility bills and other essential expenses.

2) Duke is doubling down on coal!

Duke's proposal will delay the retirement of three of its coal-burning units. In addition, Duke plans to burn dramatically more coal in 2024 and 2025 than it has in the last few years. This will lead to increased air pollution, greater climate impacts, and more coal ash. Doubling down on coal also contributes to the rate increases Duke is asking for.

Duke's Gibson and Edwardsport coal plants are already losing money, costing customers millions of dollars each year. In February 2023, Duke's own modeling showed that a portfolio eliminating coal by 2030, scaling up renewable energy, and utilizing peaker gas plants, was cheaper and posed less cost risk than the current plan, which extends coal use past 2030.

Currently, Duke relies on fossil fuels for 96% of its electricity generation, making it the worst polluter among Indiana IOUs and the most behind in transitioning to renewables. The pollution and climate impacts from Duke affect people far beyond the locations of its power plants, whether they are customers or not.

Instead of doubling down on coal, Duke should focus on transitioning away from it to keep bills affordable. This transition should incorporate energy efficiency, demand response, clean renewable energy from wind and solar, and energy storage, taking full advantage of the opportunities offered by the Inflation Reduction Act.

3) More money for Duke’s shareholders

Duke Energy aims to boost its profit margin to be the highest among electric utilities in Indiana by raising its Return on Equity (ROE) for shareholders from 9.7% to 10.5%, funded by ratepayers.

For more information on other controversial aspects of Duke's rate case, including a 30% increase in fixed monthly charges for residents (regardless of energy use), continuation of declining block rates (those who use the least energy pay the highest rates), making customers pay for coal ash clean-ups, and for a study of carbon capture and sequestration at its Edwardsport plant, visit the Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) website. You can also watch CAC's informative May 16 webinar.


What We Can Do

Feedback from ratepayers and the public can make a significant difference in the outcome of this rate case, and there are a number of ways you can lend your voice.

1) Attend a Public Hearing

The IURC will be holding public hearings across the state, and you can participate by attending and speaking up! This Guide by the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is a great resource. It explains what to expect at a public field hearing and how to prepare.

You do not have to attend only the hearing in your region. If you miss one of those hearings in your area, you can still speak at one of the others!

Upcoming Hearings:

  • Thursday, June 20, 6:00 p.m. in Bloomington (Monroe Convention Center in the Olcott Young Room, 302 South College Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47403) 

  • Thursday, June 27 at 5:00 p.m. in Fishers (Hamilton East Public Library in the East/Center Rooms) (5 Municipal Drive, Fishers, IN 46038) 

  • TBD in New Albany: Details TBA  (check CAC’s website!) 

2) Submit Written Comments to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC).  

The OUCC is a state agency that represents consumers in cases before the IURC.

A written comment to the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor in Indiana is a formal statement by a consumer expressing their opinions, concerns, or support regarding utility cases under review. Submitting written comments is particularly important for consumers who cannot attend a public hearing, as it ensures their voices and perspectives are considered in the decision-making process.

Written comments must be submitted by July 5, 2024. The OUCC will review all public comments and expects to file testimony with the IURC on July 11, 2024.

You can submit comments for the case record by:

3) Organize Your Community!

Alert members of your House of Worship, people you know, and organizations in your community to the dramatic rate increases Duke is planning and to the impacts of Duke doubling down on coal! Download and hang this flyer in your House of Worship or around your community to advocate for lower utility prices and renewable energy!

Ask them to speak up at one of the hearings for themselves or their organization or to submit written comments to OUCC!

Finally, you can contact your local elected official, such as a county commissioner or a city council member and ask them to publicly oppose Duke's rate hike. See a sample email to a local official here.

Duke's proposed rate hike would place a huge burden on Indiana's consumers and environment. However, together, we can push back and advocate for a healthier and more sustainable future for our state. By voicing our concerns and participating in the regulatory process, we can influence the outcome and ensure that the interests of all Hoosiers are considered.

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