A series of hearings begins today to examine how Duke Energy wants to invest in power sources over the next 20 years. The state Utilities Commission is set to hear from the utility and consumer advocacy groups about its annual Integrated Resource Plan. Duke Energy spokesman Mike Hughes says the utility plans to open new plants to keep up with North Carolina's population growth.
"Even if the per-household use of electricity is declining, the overall use of electricity is increasing," Hughes says.
"This happens at a time when we have additional responsibilities to replace existing generation with environmentally friendly generation and there is a significant cost associated with that."
Duke filed a request last week to raise rates by nearly 10 percent, including an increase of 11.8 percent for residential customers. Groups like NC WARN and the AARP protested the plan last week, saying it does not invest enough in green energy sources and could lead to unfair rate hikes for low-income residents.