North Carolina residents will get their say on Duke Energy's request to raise electricity rates to help pay for coal ash cleanup. A public hearing is scheduled Wednesday night in Greensboro. It's one of three taking place this month.

Duke Energy wants the North Carolina Utilities Commission to approve a 16.7 percent rate hike for residential customers in its Carolinas division. The company says the average customer would pay around $18.72 more a month. 

But critics say shifting the cost to customers isn't fair. Dave Rogers with the Sierra Club says he expects a big crowd.

“Shareholders who have profited for years from using this kind of cheap and unsafe technologies should be bearing the cost, not the customers who in some cases have had their drinking water polluted, and now they are being asked to pay for the costs associated with that,” says Rogers.

Duke Energy says the increase is needed to help pay for coal ash cleanup at storage ponds, which is required by changes in state and federal laws. And officials say, it will help the company invest in renewable energy and other technologies to modernize its plants.

The public hearing will take place at 7 p.m. in the Guilford County Courthouse. Earlier this month, residents voiced their opposition during a meeting in Franklin. Another public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 30 in Charlotte.

Duke Energy Progress, the subsidiary that operates in much of eastern North Carolina and in the Asheville area is also asking the N.C. Utilities commission for permission to raise electricity rates for customers. The company says that money would also be used for cleanup of its coal ash pits.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news


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