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DUKE ENERGY BY THE NUMBERS
By now, most Greensboro residents should be aware of the unconscionable 17-20 percent rate increase Duke Energy seeks to inflict on its customers in order to recoup losses from its latest round of grotesque mismanagement. “Citizen” Duke Energy enjoys a privileged existence wherein any incompetence or poor judgment on its part which causes its profits to decline slightly, may be made up for by bleeding its customers white by using its powers as a government-sanctioned monopoly.
The fact that Greensboro residents are currently, economically speaking, anemic hemophiliacs makes no difference to “Citizen” Duke, as it has needy millionaires to feed and clothe.
Occupy Greensboro and Occupy Winston-Salem raised the alarm on this latest financial atrocity, and turned out with over 150 local citizens (the real kind that do not own any pet legislators or regulators) to the NC Public Utilities Commission hearing in High Point on Oct. 27.
The crowd was in no mood for nonsense, and made its displeasure known up front, glaring at the six corporate suits dispatched by “Citizen” Duke to inflict its beastly society upon us, while cheering and applauding each speaker who expressed their displeasure at the utility’s naked greed. (This expression of solidarity provoked a fit of the vapors in NCPUC chairman Edward Finley, who was horrified at this lack of decorum by those of us about to be fleeced. Threats of eviction by burly policemen was were threatenedissued, but the crowd ignored him, and kept making its opinion on the matter plain. After 15 minutes of threats, Finley gave up).
In the course of listening to various excuses offered by Duke Energy and its apologists, the one that we take particular note of is the claim, “It’s only going to cost $18 to $20 a month per customer.” The unspoken implication here is that they can’t fathom why there is such a fuss over such a tiny amount.
This is easy to understand once your remember that the people pushing this rate increase make six and seven figure salaries; $20 is insignificant to them. This includes the NC Public Utilities commissioners who are supposed to look out for the public’s interest. They each make $123,000 a year with a very generous (meaning taxpayer-subsidized) benefits package. Between them and the Duke Energy senior management with their millions of dollars in compensation, $20 is what you would find in their car ashtrays or sofa cushions. So let’s look at the numbers in a context real working people understand. Rate hike demanded: 17-20 percent. Increase in real average earning for all U.S. employees in 2010: 0.2%. Average NC hourly wage: $12.63. James Rogers (Duke Energy CEO) hourly wage: $3,651.45.
Hourly wage of a NC Public Utilities Commissioner: $51.42.
Amount commissioners make listening to public testi- mony for three hours: $154.26 Amount Duke Energy customers make testifying: $0 (Actually, we lose money, since no one is paying for our gasoline or our time, whereas Duke Energy and the NCPUC are reimbursed for their mileage at taxpayer/customer expense. So, not only do we have to pay for our own gas, we have to pay for Duke Energy and the NCPUC’s as well).
Compensation for Duke Energy CEO James Rogers:
Increase over 2009: 27 percent. Amount Rogers billed Duke Energy for his lawyer to negotiate a 27 percent raise: $18,427.
Change in Duke Energy stock price in 2010: 4.89 percent.
Change in stock dividends 2009-’10: 3.19 percent. Average cost to Duke Energy customer of rate increase over one year: $216.
Extra time the average NC customer will have to work to pay for this increase: 17.1 hours.
Extra time needed for NC Public Utilities Commissioner: 4.2 hours Extra time needed for James Rogers: 3.5 minutes Purchase price of Progress Energy: $13.1 billion North Carolina’s budget deficit in 2011: $3.2 billion Number of job losses expected from Progress Energy purchase: 2,000 Number of Duke Energy job losses in 2010: 900 Amount Duke Energy spent lobbying US legislators from 2000-’10 (adjusted for inflation): $34.4 million Amount spent so far this year: $4.8 million Federal Income Taxes paid 2008-2010: -$216 million (meaning they not only paid no income tax, they got a $216 million refund, paid for by tax dollars from the rest of us that went straight into their profit margin).
Duke Energy’s profits 2008-’10: $5.5 billion.
David Allen, Greensboro
Ed. note: David Allen is a representative if the Oc- cupy GSO Media Group.
WATCHOO TALKIN’ ‘BOUT?
Couldn’t believe you name-checked Wesley Willis in today’s paper [“The Black Angels bring the past to the present”; Nov. 9, 2011; by Ryan Snyder]. Wesley was an everpresent part of my Wicker Park neighborhood in chicago in 1995-’96. He could often be found sitting in the middle of a busy sidewalk selling his cassettes — I may have some somewhere. Lots of stories about him in the Chicago Reader of that era.
Allen J. Smart, via e-mail
Hi Eric, I enjoyed reading your article [“Miltown”; Nov. 9, 2011; by Eric Ginsburg]. You captured the essence of the major impact that the mill closings and migrations had on many individuals and families. Thank you for the paper copy, I really appreciate it. I look forward to hearing from you in the media arena in the future. Good luck, and thanks again for listening.
Marcell M Campbell, Greensboro