Duke Books $594m in Utility Profits in Three Months at the Expense of Ratepayers and the Environment

Duke Energy’s strong profit, announced in a third quarter earnings call, is an insult to North Carolina ratepayers who are being asked to foot the bill for Duke’s costly and dangerous portfolio, according to broad group of organizations fighting Duke’s rate hike requests and its dirty energy addiction.

“Given that Duke has already announced rate hikes for Progress Energy customers, and is about to ask the same for Duke customers, this announcement will come as slap in the face for consumers. On the back of the enormous pay out handed to deposed Progress CEO Bill Johnson, and Duke’s ongoing commitment to out dated, polluting and dangerous fuels it’s apparent that Duke has no regard for its customers or its community,” said Greenpeace field organizer Becky Ceartas said.

Duke, the country’s biggest investor owned utility since its recent controversial merger with Progress Energy, announced third quarter earnings of $1.47 per share.

More than 30 statewide and national groups are coordinating to fight Duke’s proposed rate hikes and its dirty business model, including social justice, environmental and faith groups.

“Duke Energy’s 3rd quarter earnings report tells people of faith that Duke’s business model is out of touch with an energy portfolio that serves the needs and welfare of our citizens. Duke Energy’s out of date business plan relies on polluting, inefficient fossil fuel technologies, which primarily serve short term profitability. North Carolina Citizens need Duke to move aggressively to a 21st Century Energy plan based on energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will create meaningful work for tens of thousands of North Carolinians, while protecting us from climate change consequences that are getting worse year after year.” said Richard Fireman, Public Policy Advisor, North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light.

Duke’s earnings have increased about 70% between 2009 and 2011, despite expensive coal plant cost over runs, a huge payout to deposed Progress CEO Bill Johnson and numerous legacy issues with Progress’s former nuclear fleet.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” says Carley Ruff, Policy and Outreach Coordinator for the NC Housing Coalition.  “Even while Duke sees record profits, residential customers and small businesses are being asked to sacrifice.  Low and fixed income North Carolinians are struggling to keep up with their housing costs as it is, and a 14% increase in power bills will only make matters worse.  This potential rate increase also comes during the coldest time of year – when families typically spend a much greater portion of their income on utilities.”

“There are thousands of people in NC that cannot afford electrical service already.  We can’t consider rate hikes without adopting programs to ensure that all people in NC can afford electric power and without an effective plan for dramatically reducing environmental damage from current practices.  Until these two issues are addressed, proposed rate increases are unacceptable” said Al Ripley, from North Carolina Justice Center.

A recent Greenpeace report, Charting the Correction Course, details how Duke could save ratepayers in the Carolinas more than $100 billion dollars over the next twenty years by switching to clean, renewable energy.

“Currently, Duke’s business plan is based on upping rates on North Carolina energy consumers twenty fold over the next twenty years, and doubling down on dirty energy. Returning money to shareholders off the back of the people of this state, our environment and our climate is simply unacceptable. We look forward to seeing Duke redirect it’s focus towards a cleaner, safer and cheaper energy future” said Greenpeace Field Organizer Becky Ceartas.

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