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Piedmont Natural Gas Aims for Improved Service with New Rate Proposal

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Benjamin Hughes

April 1, 2024 - 21:19 pm

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Piedmont Natural Gas Proposes Base Rate Increase with Intended Rate Cuts and Tax Credits for Customers

CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 1, 2024 -- Piedmont Natural Gas, recognizing the necessity to support its expanding customer base and the demand for consistent and secure natural gas services, has approached the North Carolina Utilities Commission with a rate proposal. This submission, made in an effort to recover costs associated with improving system dependability and customer service functionality, suggests a rate rise for the utility's base rates, which if sanctioned, would come into effect in November of 2024.

Piedmont Natural Gas has established itself as a leader in catering to North Carolina's energy needs, providing essential services to six of the state’s most populous cities. The proposed rate adjustment reflects the company's strategies to adequately support and maintain the distribution of natural gas services to over 810,000 consumers in the state. Piedmont Natural Gas, through its initiative, aims to safely meet the growing energy demand while ensuring compliance with federal safety mandates and continuing to deliver reliable, safe natural gas without interruption.

Enhancements and Reliability at the Core of Rate Request

The proposed rate amendment seeks to allow Piedmont Natural Gas to recoup sensibly incurred expenses. These outlays facilitated federal safety requirement compliance, bolstered customer service offerings, developed necessary infrastructure, and preserved the steadfast provision of natural gas services. The comprehensive request signifies a revenue uplift of roughly 11.7% for Piedmont during the year subsequent to the adoption of new rates. There would be a subsequent overall increase of nearly 0.8% after the first year upon the expiration of the reduction for excess deferred income taxes.

In anticipation of mitigating the financial impact on customers, Piedmont Natural Gas is concurrently advocating for rate reductions aligned with natural gas market prices. These cost adjustments and the accelerated remission of outstanding deferred income tax balances are designed to benefit customers financially.

Ongoing Commitment to Customer Affordability

"At Piedmont, we work hard every day to avoid increases to customer bills and to keep costs as low as possible," emphasized Brian Weisker, senior vice president and president of Piedmont Natural Gas. "The investments we've made to strengthen and enhance our natural gas delivery system help ensure we can meet rising demand for natural gas from new and existing customers while also protecting our customers from unplanned outages."

The endeavors spearheaded by the utility company reflect a firm commitment to balancing the scale of operational excellence and customer cost sustainability.

Market Fluctuations and Future Projections

Key to Piedmont's strategy are periodic rate modifications that accurately reflect shifts in the wholesale natural gas market. By statute, Piedmont is not permitted to impose markups on the cost of natural gas, stipulating that customers must be billed precisely for the incurred expenses. The present downward trajectory in the market pricing of wholesale natural gas, a record low in over a decade, hints at potential for future customer rate abatements should this trend persist.

Alleviating Customer Costs with Assistance Programs

Piedmont Natural Gas understands that even with the best efforts, rate increases can pose a challenge for consumers. To this end, the utility provider offers a variety of methods for customers to manage their bills effectively. Among these strategies are assistance programs and the Equal Payment Plan (EPP), which average out energy costs into equal monthly payments, thus minimizing the likelihood of unexpected charges.

Equalize Your Monthly Energy Budget

The company's complimentary EPP program is particularly devised to assist customers in budget management, allowing them to sidestep unexpected bill fluctuations. By computing an annual natural gas consumption, the cost is then distributed equally across each month. This program offers predictability and consistency for customers in their financial planning.

For more details on the Equal Payment Plan, interested individuals can click here.

Discovering Energy-Saving Opportunities

Piedmont also proffers a range of energy-saving tips and instruments. These resources empower consumers to unearth methods for conserving energy and money within their daily routines. Moreover, these tools and programs are structured to elucidate the factors that influence natural gas expenses while spotlighting actionable measures to moderate the effects of heightened utilization.

To learn more about energy-saving tips and tools, please access this link.

Financial Aid for Customers Facing Hardship

The 'Share the Warmth' initiative stands as proof of Piedmont's support for the community, supplying local agencies with the means to aid families with their utility expenditures, regardless of their energy sources. To connect with approved assistance agencies, please visit piedmontng.com/ShareTheWarmth.

Additionally, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP) offers financial assistance to householders struggling to pay for natural gas, electricity, and other household energy sources.

Piedmont encourages anyone in need to apply for LIEAP and other available assistance programs to determine eligibility. For further insights, go to piedmontng.com/AssistancePrograms.

An Award-Winning Service Provider

A subsidiary of the renowned Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas successfully distributes natural gas to an extensive customer base across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, encompassing residential, commercial, industrial, and power generation sectors. A testament to their service quality, Piedmont secured the coveted No. 1 position in customer satisfaction with residential natural gas service in the South among large utilities for the second consecutive year, courtesy of the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

For more information about Piedmont Natural Gas, interested parties can visit piedmontng.com. Stay updated with Piedmont's latest news and updates by following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Duke Energy's Vision for a Cleaner Future

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), operating out of Charlotte, N.C., reigns as one of the largest energy holding companies in the United States, firmly placed within the Fortune 150 list. The company's electricity utilities provide services to a staggering 8.4 million customers across a swath of states including North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky with a combined energy capacity of 54,800 megawatts. Moreover, Duke Energy’s natural gas division caters to 1.7 million customers in a similar geographical stretch.

The company is deeply invested in an ambitious clean energy transition poised to navigate the delicate balance between reliability, affordability, and accessibility while marching towards milestone targets such as net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions from electricity generation by 2050. Investments span across major electric grid overhauls, cleaner energy production, as well as the development of enhanced energy storage, renewable sources, natural gas, and advanced nuclear technologies.

To uncover more about Duke Energy, or to survey the broader array of strategies and innovations spurring our energy transition, individuals can resort to their official website and the Duke Energy News Center. You can also follow Duke Energy's progress and initiatives via their social media on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, or delve into customer stories and milestones on illumination.

For media-related inquiries and more information about Piedmont Natural Gas’ rate proposal, please reach out to media contact Jason Wheatley, available by phone at 877.348.3612 or via email at [email protected]. You can also follow Wheatley's updates via his Twitter account @PNG_JasonW.

In Conclusion

The move by Piedmont Natural Gas to propose a base rate increase, complemented by rate reductions for natural gas costs and income tax payment credits, heralds a focused approach towards sustainable energy distribution. The company's investments in system reliability and improvements, alongside concrete initiatives for customer support, demonstrate a holistic roadmap that strives to marry operational proficiency with customer affordability and satisfaction. As utility companies like Piedmont Natural Gas navigate the dynamic energy landscape, a commitment to progressive adaptation and community engagement continues to be at the forefront of their ethos.

SOURCE: Piedmont Natural Gas