This is a letter I sent in to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. They are having hearings with local consumers regarding the proposed rate increases with Duke Energy. A writeup of the hearings by the Kokomo Tribune can be read by Clicking Here.
To whom it may concern:
I am appalled that I, along with the rest of Duke’s Indiana customers are expected to pay an increase of around nineteen percent in electric utility charges. In 2006 Duke officials estimated it would require $1.985 billion to complete the coal gasification power plant that’s under construction in Edwardsport Indiana. Then in 2009 the project’s cap was raised to $2.35 billion and as of 2010 Duke filed to raise the cap to $2.88 billion. All of this cost is expected to be put on paying customers who already enjoy acceptable service.
It is outrageous to me that the cost of this project would be underestimated by almost one billion dollars. Project scope oversight must have been severely lacking in 2006, or Duke just feels the need to push more of the burden of their profit generating machine to their customers.
All of this is happening while the contacts between Duke and the IURC are under a federal investigation. It is very disheartening to learn that Duke had backdoor meetings to ensure that their customers pay the whole bill for this new power plant, while they still make profit off of their current revenue streams. These current revenue streams could, and should be used to supplement some of the costs of this new power plant.
As there is a monopoly for electric service in my area I expect that I not be taken advantage of. Just because Duke is the only electrical provider in my area does not give them the right to whole hearted rip off myself, my family, friends, and neighbors. To my knowledge there is also no SLA, or service level agreement between myself and Duke Energy. Why in the world would I be in favor of helping front the entire costs of a new power plant while I have no alternatives to using Duke Energy, they offer no guarantee of service or repair times, and they expect to build a power plant with no impact on their bottom line?
I understand the need to increase rates to help cover some of the expenses of building a power plant. Being a business owner myself it is standard practice, and usually expected that consumers will bear some of the costs for upgrades, new projects, etc. But if in my business I put the whole burden of all my projects on my customers there would be a significant increase in their bills, which would lead to loss in my business. The same should hold true for Duke Energy, but since we are in a monopoly position I expect we, the consumer will be screwed just because we can be.
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