Thursday, October 13, 2011

Duke filed rate hearing notices late

Duke Energy was a month late in notifying customers of hearings, beginning in Charlotte on Tuesday night, on the 15 percent rate hike it's seeking.

Don Smith, a Duke customer who lives in Kannapolis, got his notice in the mail at 3 p.m. Tuesday -- four hours before the Charlotte hearing began before an overflow crowd. Smith said he and several friends would have attended if given earlier notice.

"If they had that many people show up, how many would they have had if they'd given more than two or three hours' notice?" he said later.

The rate case, filed July 1, was hardly a secret. The Observer published the list of six hearings on July 30 and ran a story on the Charlotte hearing Tuesday morning.

But the N.C. Utilities Commission told Duke to do more, publishing legal notices in local newspapers and mail notices to each customer 45 days before the hearings. That didn't happen.

Duke told the commission in late September that notices hadn't gone out as planned on Aug. 27. Mailings to customers would instead be sent out starting Sept. 28, Duke said. Ads about the hearings ran in the Observer on Sept. 22 and 26.

Staff mistakenly scheduled the notices to start 45 days before a Nov. 28 evidentiary hearing in Raleigh, not the Charlotte hearing on Tuesday, spokesman Jason Walls said this week. Walls said Duke tried to make up for the error by contacting local television stations before Tuesday's hearing. He noted that five more hearings are scheduled, none in the Charlotte area, and written comments may be sent to the commission.

Neither the commission nor its Public Staff, which represents customer interests, have filed a response to Duke's mea culpa.

"It's something that we don't like, but it does happen occasionally," said Tony Wike, the Public Staff's chief counsel. "We had no idea that the notices would arrive so late that a customer could not plan to be there. We would not like to see it happen again."


Anonymous said...

Good thing we have a free market in North Carolina and can select another electricity company in protest.

Oh wait....

Anonymous said...

They knew what they were doing, duke did'nt want everone to show dirty dogs.

Anonymous said...

I cant believe them dern is more on it...