WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Customers complained about a possible increase in energy prices at a hearing in Wilmington Tuesday night.
Duke Energy wants to raise electricity bills by almost 10% for nearly 2 million customers of Progress Energy Carolinas.
The North Carolina Utility Commission is hosting hearings on the rate hike across the state over the next month.
The first one was held in Wilmington.
Some who testified at the hearing argued this is not a good time for a rate increase.
Kate Held said she is concerned about those who are struggling in this economy and said they won't be able to afford the rate increase.
"We can get by if we need to pay more," said Held. "But we know a lot of people that need help. So please, wait a little while before you do this. It is not the right time."
Progress Energy Carolinas wants to increase electric rates by an average of 9.7%, an amount estimated to raise another nearly $390 million.
The company says it needs the rate increase to recover money it has already invested in new cleaner, more efficient power plants.
However, some environmental advocates who attended the meeting complained about the company using fossil fuel.
"A company with this much reach and power should invest in renewable energy," said Emma Bogdan, a UNCW student and customer of Progress Energy. "Our rate hike should not go to dirty energy that will destroy our planet and make us sick."
Clifton Cash, a Progress Energy customer, said, "This is about breathing clean air and drinking clean water and children being able to play outside without breathing in air from coal-fired plants."
Cash said he would rather see a move to wind energy instead of "increasing the energy rates of poor people to build a plant using a type of energy that no one wants or supports."
"We are not going to raise it on multi-million dollar companies but on those who can't pay for their groceries," he said.
Duke Energy won a 7.2% increase last year, down from its 17% request.
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