TERRE HAUTE, IND. (WTWO/WAWV) — As the summer months start to wind down, many Duke Energy customers are also hoping the end is near for high electric bills.
A 16% increase went into effect for Duke Energy customers starting in July, but some customers said they have seen a much more significant increase.
“We’re seeing the highest sustained prices for fuel to produce electricity that we’ve witnessed in a decade,” McKenzie Barbknecht, spokesperson for Duke Energy, said.
Barbknecht said the 16% increase is the highest Duke Energy rate adjustment in the past 15 years, and “the next highest rate adjustment attributed to fuel occurred in the July-September 2008 billing cycle and resulted in a 7.49% increase for average residential customers.”
The 16% increase is slated to end in September, but a 7.2% increase was requested that would begin in October if approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
“Fuel costs are adjusted four times a year for Indiana utilities and those fuel costs rise and fall, but recently there have been rate increases because of global markets, tight fuel supplies and labor shortages at coal mines and railroads,” Barbknecht said.
Jeanie Hall, a Terre Haute Resident and Duke Energy customer, said her energy bill went up more than just 16%.
Hall said it is just her and her son in their home, and her bill went from $109 to $256 in a one-month period.
“In fact, I thought I had not paid the previous bill and even went back to make sure I did pay it because it was more than double,” Hall said.
Despite trying her best to be conservative with electricity, Hall said her bill was still over $200 for the month of August.
“I keep [the thermostat] set at about 73 or 74 and dare not let anyone touch it,” Hall said.
Barbknecht said if you mix summer temperatures on top of the 16% increase already in effect, you’re almost guaranteed to see a bill higher than you usually would.
“July was really hot for us. It was about three degrees warmer than the month prior in June and it was three degrees warmer than it was July 2021,” Barbknecht said.
If the 7.2% rate is approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, it would begin in October and end in December.
“These are not permanent rate increases. Fuel costs rise and fall and we pass those along to our customers with no markups so customers pay what we pay,” Barbknect said.
Barbknect said in the meantime, Duke Energy has extended its interest-free payment plans from three to six months.
Through Duke Energy’s “Share the Light” fund, qualifying customers can also receive up to a $300 credit annually on their account.
If you are having trouble paying your electric bill, you can find more information by clicking here.