Duke Energy Carolinas made its annual filing July 29 with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina (PSCSC) for costs associated with the fuel used to generate electricity at its power plants.
Duke Energy Carolinas is seeking to recover fuel costs as part of its annual adjustment for the fuel used to power South Carolina homes and businesses. The company makes no profit from the fuel component of rates.
The PSCSC reviews the fuel costs required to serve customers to ensure an accurate adjustment is made each year. If approved, the new fuel rates would go into effect Oct. 1, 2022.
If approved, typical residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month would see their bills increase from the current $119.32 to $135.07, an increase of $15.75, or 13.2 percent.
Commercial customers would see an average increase in their bills of about 18.3 percent, and industrial customers would receive an average increase of about 24.4 percent.
Each year, this "true-up" proceeding is intended to resolve the difference between projected fuel costs, and what is billed to the customer. Some years, the company reimburses customers and reduces the charge to their energy bills; in other years – like this year – customers reimburse the company.
What's driving the proposed increase
Rising energy demand resulted in a significant increase in fuel needs for power generation, compounded by fuel commodity prices climbing drastically in 2021 due to tight supplies.
The sharp increase in commodity prices contributed to a $145 million under-recovery across the prior year, as fuel prices climbed sharply right after the company's annual filing. The South Carolina fuel clause does not allow utilities to adjust fuel rates during the billing period to prevent such customer underpayment, so the proposed fuel rates include recovery of this shortfall.
Duke Energy Carolinas serves about 640,000 customers primarily in the Upstate region of South Carolina, including Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties. The company's other South Carolina utility -- Duke Energy Progress -- made its annual fuel filing in April.
Duke Energy works to actively manage its fuel contracts to keep fuel costs as low as possible for customers. Savings achieved from the joint dispatch of Duke Energy's generation fleet in the Carolinas also help to lower the company's fuel costs.
Customers struggling to pay their energy bills might also qualify for assistance from various government and nonprofit programs for utility bills and other household expenses. Customers can learn about agencies that serve their area by dialing 211, texting "electric" to 211211, or visiting sc211.org online. This free service helps connect customers to local community agencies supplying aid for a wide range of needs, including help with energy bills.
Duke Energy also offers programs and resources to help customers experiencing uncertainty, to include flexible payment options and the Share the Light Fund, a Duke Energy program that provides energy assistance.
Duke Energy offers energy-saving tips and innovative efficiency programs for every budget to help customers take control of their energy use. For example, the Home Energy House Call is a free in-home energy assessment that provides customers more information about how they use energy and strategies to save money on their monthly bill. To learn more about these programs, visit duke-energy.com/savings.