RALEIGH (AP) — Utility regulators are postponing until Thanksgiving a hearing to decide whether to allow a 15 percent increase in the electricity bills of 1.3 million North Carolina customers.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission is acting at the request of consumer advocates to delay hearing from expert witnesses until November 20 in Raleigh. The commission’s decision last week postpones plans to grill energy experts a month earlier.
The commission plans to hold public meetings in September and October in Rockingham, Raleigh, Asheville, Snow Hill and Wilmington on Duke Energy Progress’ request to charge an extra $477 million a year. That would mean $18 more per month for the typical household bill of $105.
The Rockingham meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. in Courtroom A of the Richmond County Judicial Center, according to the company’s website.
Duke also has a link to the commission’s website with rules on how to give public witness testimony:
• Witnesses must register his or her name on a sign-up sheet in the hearing room prior to his or her testimony.
• After calling the hearing to order… the presiding Commissioner or Examiner shall outline the procedure to be followed for testimony and shall establish hearing room decorum standards.
• Witnesses will be called according to the order of registration on the sign-up sheet. The presiding Commissioner or Examiner reserves the right to re-order the witnesses in order to provide the Commission with a full spectrum of opinions and ideas.
• Each witness shall state his or her name and address and the association, if any, that he or she represents at the time of his or her testimony. The presiding Commissioner or Examiner may limit the scope of the testimony to matters specified in the notice of public hearing. [The presiding Commissioner will require each witness to be sworn in (or to affirm to the truth of their statements) before beginning their testimony.]
• To allow each witness an equal amount of time to testify or to prevent cumulative, repetitive, irrelevant or unnecessary testimony, the presiding Commissioner or Examiner may establish time limits for the presentation of testimony within his or her discretion and may limit testimony to five minutes or less per witness.
• Any witness testifying may extend his or her remarks in written form, but written testimony must be submitted at the time of his or her oral testimony at the public hearing. Any witness may submit written testimony in lieu of oral testimony, but any written testimony must be submitted by the witness during the public hearing and subject to cross-examination.
• Only one witness may testify at a time and shall refrain from testifying to matters not specified in the notice of public hearing. Witnesses are providing testimony to the Commission and should not address non-Commission participants in the hearing room and may not ask questions. As testimony must be recorded, the presiding Commissioner or Examiner may limit unconventional modes of testimony to ensure accuracy of the record.
• To allow all witnesses to be heard and properly transcribed by the court reporter, the presiding Commissioner or Examiner shall have the right to instruct the removal of any member of the audience attempting to participate either verbally or visually during testimony. Members of the audience shall not bring signs or placards into the hearing room.
• The presiding Commissioner or Examiner, at his or her discretion, may modify the rules for public witness testimony.
The utility’s rate increase includes asking North Carolina regulators for permission to pass along to customers coal ash cleanup costs of about $977 million over five years.
The Duke Energy Progress rate increase marks the first time the company has asked for permission to pass along to North Carolina consumers some of the utility’s estimated $5.1 billion cleanup costs.
The subsidiary of the country’s largest electric company operates in much of eastern North Carolina and around Asheville.