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Now, we wait for a ruling!

fight the power final, really

Thursday evening, the final public hearing on the Duke Energy rate increase request was held in Rock Hill, SC and the Public Service Commission hear much of what they  have already heard; folks telling them why Duke should not get a rate increase and folks praising Duke’s philanthropic record and South Carolina’s lower than the national average electricity rate.

The Public Service Commission has their job cut out for them.  They have to weigh a number of different factors and make a decision on Duke’s request before Sept. 18th.

Do they listen to the over 1700 voices demanding that Duke be told No?  These voices came from emotional pleas from those on fixed income, the working poor and senior citizens for whom a raise, even a small one would negatively impact them greatly.  These voices also presented examples of poor management or mismanagement on Duke’s part.

Do they listen to the voices singing the praises of Duke, charities that receive significant donations from Duke and business entities that enjoy a working relationship with Duke to help recruit new business to SC.  Interestingly enough, as these voice sang Duke’s praises, there weren’t any verses discussing the rate increase.

Finally, do they listen to the “settlement” created by the hard work of the Office of Regulatory Staff.  A settlement that whittled down Duke’s original double digit request to single digits over 2 years.  Will the Public Service Commission take into account that the ORS seems to pride itself, not on telling Duke or any other utility NO, but on getting good deals, much like as lawyer who “wins” all his cases, by making plea deals.  Will they consider that Duke ALWAYS  asks for outrageous amounts initially and then happily settles for a smaller amount without a hint of disappointment or any public objections that they settled, but they will have to cut something somewhere?  In other words, will the Public Service Commission acknowledge Duke’s shell game and tell them NO?

In the end, I feel that the ORS settlement will be approved and we will see our electricity rate increase as early as next month.  I will be disappointed, but this is not the end.  We may lose this battle, but we need to fight on.

The Greenville News in an editorial last month hit upon something we need to work on changing.  They mentioned that one thing that was missing in this whole battle with Duke was someone standing up for the consumers,  an intervenor in the “settlement” process and beyond.  I would go a step further, there is not a real voice on the Public Service Commission that truly speaks for the people.  We can change this.  There is an open seat on the Commission.  Join Another Voice and let your legislators know that when they select a person to fill this place to look for an advocate for the people, rather than a stalwart of the utilities world.

Let’s work toward make the Public Service Commission live up to a part of their name, PUBLIC.

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