Dick and Chloe Goho are fanatics of solar power and have installed 20 solar panels at their home in North Carolina. They received 65 percent state and federal tax credit towards the purchase of the system. Dick and Chloe’s home feature solar hot water heating, LED Lights and solar skylights.
The Goho’s ultimate ultimate goal is to reduce their consumption of energy. Since installing the photovoltaic solar panels a year ago, the couple have reduced their energy consumption from 800 KW to 320 KW monthly.
Chloe, who is a retired financial analyst, estimates that it will take at least eight years for the solar system to pay for itself. This is because the system has practically cut their electricity bill in half. Previously, the couples typical bill was $100 but their most recent bill was $40 and the system was only on for two weeks for that month.
Westar Energy is seeking the permission to start offering their customers prepaid electricity service in Kansas. The company filed an application with Kansas Corporation Commission but a decision is yet to be made. If the request is granted, Westar will have to begin the prepaid service on a small scale under a pilot project with as many as 1000 customers.
Customers who opt for the service would not be required to make a security deposit; however, they would have to pay Westar $4 a month for the privilege. In order to qualify for the prepaid service, customers should not owe Westar more than $1000, be currently taking residential service and their home should also be equipped with advance metering. An email address is also necessary to foster communication with the company.
As the cold weather rule prohibits service shut offs during the winter, prepaid customers who owe the company money could see their energy usage reduced to a minimum, as Westar’s advanced metering system is able to throttle back energy usage. In addition, customers who use more electricity than they pay for will have the outstanding amount debited from future payments.
While prepaid isn’t prevalent in North Carolina, certain municipalities and coops have begun experimenting with the idea. In other markets, such as Houston Texas, prepaid electricity plans have become the norm.
The 1.9 million customers served by Duke Carolinas will see an increase in their bills, as the company was granted a 4.5 percent rate increase by the National Utilities Commission. This is the third rate increase since 2009. The company will use the rate increase to pay for new coal-fired unit and a natural gas-fueled plant.
Duke Carolinas made a request for an increase of $446 million but the National Utilities Commission only granted the company $205 million. In addition, the company received an approval for a 10.2 percent return on equity despite their request for a 11.2 percent return.
In light of the approval for a rate increase for the electricity provider, an appeal is likely to be made on behalf of consumers for a change in rates by Attorney General of North Carolina, Roy Cooper. The Attorney General appealed Duke Carolinas’ last rate hike and was victorious.
Duke Carolinas is prohibited from requesting another increase in rates for another two years. Agencies that assist customers struggling to pay their energy bills will also receive a $10 million donation from the company.