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Duke Energy Files Revised Electric Grid Upgrade Proposal

Duke Energy’s latest proposal to upgrade its electric grid in Indiana would be paid for by its 810,000 customers in the state.

The utility says the proposal would result in fewer outages and energy savings for customers.

"This plan will improve the reliability of our electric service and give customers more control over their energy usage and bills while creating and supporting thousands of Hoosier jobs," Duke Energy Indiana President Melody Birmingham-Byrd said in a statement.

But customers would bear the burden of paying for the project. They’d see a rate increase of about 1 percent each year from 2017 until 2022.

A 2013 law allows utilities to file a 7-year infrastructure plan between rate hike cases. If approved, the utility can recoup 80 percent of its investment through a customer bill tracker.

But Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of the Citizens Action Coalition, says the system is unfair.

"It’s the obligation of rate payers to pay for service, it’s the obligation of Duke Energy to deliver that service," Olson says. "And when we enable cost recovery in this way through these tracking mechanisms we’re shifting the risk – the investment risk and the financial risk – to ratepayers."

Duke Energy’s original plan was rejected by the Indiana Utility Regulatory commission because the commission wanted more specific information about electric grid projects.

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