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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE CLOSURE: UPDATES, RESOURCES, AND CONTEXT

Duke Energy launches new program to help low income customers

The Duke Energy logo with a green and blue logo.
Courtesy of Duke Energy
Duke Energy projects that its new Customer Assistance Program may help as many as 124,000 customers in North Carolina.

Duke Energy is starting a new program this month to help low income customers across North Carolina. The Customer Assistance Program (CAP) will give eligible customers a $42 monthly credit for 12 months.

CAP will also refer qualifying customers to weatherization and energy efficiency programs to reduce energy usage and lower monthly bills. Duke Energy projects CAP may help as many as 124,000 customers in North Carolina.

"The goal is to provide short-term support to help customers out of their immediate crisis, combined with long-term energy efficiency programs to help break the cycle of need," said Duke spokesperson Bill Norton. "[Plus] improving efficiency benefits all customers by reducing costs for the entire system."

Eligible customers will be automatically enrolled in the program. These customers include families below the poverty level, households with a person aged 60 or older, or families with disabled persons.

Other existing programs to financially help customers include the federally funded Low-Income Energy Assistance Program and Crisis Intervention Program.

Duke Energy developed this program alongside state officials and clean energy advocates. The program is launching in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) approved CAP for both Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) after a coalition of large companies dropped their objection to the program.

NCUC also approved shareholders contributing $6 million for Duke’s Share the Light fund, which helps customers behind on their bills, and $10 million for critical health and safety repairs in low-income houses.

Additionally, NCUC approved rate hikes over the next three years for both DEC and DEP. DEC customers will see a 14.6% rate increase, while DEP customers will see a 11.3% rate increase.

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.