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The Monopoly Man and Your Utility Rates

by Grant Mincy, Energy Organizer

On January 19th, I attended my first organizing and strategy meeting as a new staff member with Clean Water for North Carolina. I have recently relocated from Knoxville, Tennessee to work on environment and energy issues facing NC. That Saturday I took my seat at the table with other NC activists to discuss upcoming rate hikes by Duke and Progress Energy. The Consumers Against Rate Hikes (CARH) strategy session participants were very welcoming to me, and I was introduced to the extent of rate hikes and reliance on fossil fuels proposed within the Integrated Resource Plans (IRP) of our energy monopolies.

I'm the guy with the beard.

I’m the guy with the beard.

The long term plans proposed by the utility giants would dictate to NC residents how we get our energy. The IRPs reveal a commitment to high-cost energy from coal, natural gas and nuclear, while backing away from energy conservation, efficiency and investment in renewable energy sources. Under the plans, the utilities would burden consumers with an additional 14% rate hike. Take comfort, though, because concerned citizens groups and activists like you are looking to hold Duke, Progress and the North Carolina Utilities Commission accountable to a least-cost plan that protects the public interest.

A statewide day of action was planned for the following Saturday, January 26th. I made plans to attend the action in downtown Asheville, to show Clean Water for NC’s opposition of the rate hikes. I was greeted by nearly 100 people in my new community consisting of organizers, musicians, concerned citizens and even a giant monopoly man. Banners, expressing opposition to hydraulic fracturing, mountaintop removal coal mining, nuclear power and others decorated the park. People carried signs promoting clean energy sources, conservation, efficiency and sustainability. Large, smiling cutout suns were being carried around the park. There was live music, speakers, conversation and just plain old fun promoting a cheaper, cleaner and more just energy future. We have momentum.

The "Monopoly Man" looks on...

The “Monopoly Man” looks on…

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold hearings about the proposed rate hikes across the state; the first one is in Wilmington on February 19. Click here for to find a hearing near you. Let’s keep the momentum and remind the Utilities commission of their legal mandate for conservation.

I look forward to seeing you there.

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