Seniors Speak Out Against Duke Energy Rate Hike and Dirty Energy Plan
A hush fell over the courtroom as the elderly woman made her way, painstakingly, from her seat to the witness stand. After swearing on a Bible to tell the truth, Cora Little sat and explained, with shaking voice, how coming to the South, and into the realm of Duke Energy's monolithic energy control, had changed her. Gone were the beautiful fish she'd tended for years, a pastime she'd enjoyed since childhood. She related, to gasps from the crowd, how she now cooks only one big meal a week, and lives off leftovers to conserve electricity. She unplugs appliances and, deeply religious, can only read her Bible during the daytime. At night, the only light in her home comes from a streetlight outside, which shines through her open door into the living room. She fears she will have to cut back on the "prayer line" as well, which is her main contact with fellow believers--the phone uses electricity.
Sadly, her story was not the only such one at the Duke Rate Hike Hearing on June 24th.
Sandra Wilbourn and Mary King also gave rousing, if frightening, testimony to the injustices heaped on Seniors, many of whom are on fixed incomes and unable to bear the burden of ever-increasing utility bills. They spoke passionately, and with nods from the two dozen or so Seniors in attendance, about the fear with which many of our elders, now past their prime earning years and, in some cases, deteriorating health, live. Said Sandra, "Many of us have to go to Food Banks just to have enough to eat."
Duke representatives looked on, steely eyed and unmoved by the testimony. Some of the Utilities Commissioners took notes and exchanged quick whispers as, again and again, people took the stand denouncing the rampant greed and manipulation which Duke has used throughout the rate hearing process. Skipping to the front of the line, a Duke spokesman opened the session with a five-minute pitch, touting the community service Duke engages in and showcasing Duke employees as "down-home folks" who's "children sit in the same math class as your own."
Meanwhile, Duke is asking for its third straight annual rate increase though its quarterly earnings statements show record profits and its CEO receives an $8.4 Million salary. It shows no intention to ramp up the use of renewable resources, a plan that will keep North Carolina dependent on coal, oil and highly dangerous gas extraction techniques like "fracking."
Though Duke Energy's well-tailored spokespeople would have you see this monopolistic corporation as a local "Mom & Pop" the truth is easily recognizable in Duke's policy: Seniors don't matter, children don't matter, those already struggling to make ends meet don't matter. Duke Energy's persistent attack on the working poor and most vulnerable amongst us is nothing short of villainous.
Don't drink the Duke Kool-Aid...it's got "stuff" in it.