Duke Energy, a major U.S. power provider, has updated its billing format, particularly in North Carolina, to make it more transparent. The focus is on a part of the bill called “Summary of Rider Adjustments”, which lists various charges related to energy production and delivery. Despite concerns from customers about new charges, Duke Energy clarifies these are not additional fees but detailed breakdowns of existing costs. The company has also proposed rate increases to cover rising fuel expenses, while offering tips and programs to help customers manage their energy use and costs. This move has sparked discussions about the need for clearer communication from Duke Energy regarding billing changes and how customers can adjust their energy consumption habits accordingly.

Overview of Rider Adjustments

  • Duke Energy has redesigned its bill format to enhance transparency, particularly regarding a line item called the “Summary of Rider Adjustments.”
  • This line item aggregates costs from eleven different components, including fuel for power generation, software for customer billing, and energy efficiency programs, calculated on a cents per kilowatt basis. The total varies monthly based on energy usage.
  • The “Summary of Rider Adjustments” is not a new charge; it represents costs that have always been part of Duke Energy bills but are now itemized for clearer communication. Customers comparing bills should consider the same month from the previous year due to seasonal usage differences.

Rate Adjustments and Impact

  • In June 2023, Duke Energy Progress proposed to the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) an annual adjustment mainly due to higher fuel costs in 2022. The proposal includes a 4.3% rate increase for residential rates by the end of the year, with an initial increase of 4.4% followed by a slight decrease.
  • This adjustment aims to cover increased fuel costs while keeping rates below the national average. Duke Energy emphasizes its efforts to manage fuel contracts and leverage carbon-free nuclear power to minimize customer bill impacts.
  • Additional efforts include outreach to customers for financial assistance, energy-saving tips, and proposed new energy efficiency programs and time-of-use rates to give customers more control over their bills.
Summary of Duke Energy's Rider Adjustments

Duke Energy Logo

Customer Responses and Concerns

  • Some customers expressed surprise at seeing the “Summary of Rider Adjustments” as a separate line item on their bills, with amounts varying significantly among customers.
  • Duke Energy Carolinas implemented new rates effective January 15, with electric rates set to increase by approximately 8.5% in 2024, then by smaller percentages in the subsequent two years. These increases are attributed to the winter high billing season, rate case increases, and fuel cost adjustments.
  • Customer feedback included concerns over lack of prior notification about these changes and the impact of the adjustments on their bills. Some customers indicated they would have made different heating choices had they been aware of the impending increases.

Conclusion

Duke Energy’s adjustments and the newly detailed “Summary of Rider Adjustments” on customer bills reflect an effort to increase billing transparency and manage the evolving costs of energy production and infrastructure investment. While these changes aim to keep rates competitive and provide more insight into bill components, customer feedback suggests a need for improved communication regarding such adjustments to allow for better financial planning and understanding of the charges incurred.

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