Answer Man: What Are All the Extra Charges on My Duke Energy Bill? Confusion Over Airport’s Plans at Broadmoor Golf Course?

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Written by John Boyle, Asheville Watchdog.

A new round of questions, smart-aleck replies, and the real answers.

Question: I’m hoping you can help me decipher all the extra charges on my current Duke bill. If I’m reading this correctly, it looks like my actual energy usage was $158.96. You will note that, after many lines of adjustments, my total bill comes to $225.95. The “Storm Recovery Cost” is the only item that is somewhat explained on the back of the bill…in corporate speak language that doesn’t really tell you much. I have no clue what the other line items are for other than to add $66 of ambiguous charges to my bill.

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My answer: Well, it does fit with Duke Energy’s new slogan: “Duke Energy: Adding ambiguous charges since 1904.”

Real answer: Duke Energy spokesperson Logan Kureczka said first of all, these charges are called “rider charges,” and they “are now broken out separately on bills so that customers can see how their bill is calculated each month.

“This change was effective Oct. 1, 2023, for Duke Energy Progress customers to increase transparency, so likely some of your readers are just starting to notice it in the last few months,” Kureczka said. “Previously these rider charges were summarized in the per kilowatt hour energy rate and not broken out separately.”

She pointed out that the “Summary of Rider Adjustments” line item includes billing adjustments approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, and they are applied to the customer’s billed kilowatt-hour usage.

“These adjustments include approved fuel, generation, environmental, purchases and credits that affect reliable and efficient service to customers,” Kureczka said. “Riders are often fees that help advance state policy goals, such as funding to bring more solar energy to the grid — through the Renewable Energy Rider — or which save customers money, such as the Storm Recovery Charge that recouped extreme storm repair costs through bonds rather than including the repairs in base rates, saving customers $300 million.”

She also provided a link to a Duke Energy page on how to read your bill, and anotherlink to the storm recovery information page. Here’s what the storm recovery page says about the savings:

“The customer savings are a result of Senate Bill 559, passed in November 2019, allowing Duke Energy to securitize the costs – in other words, to get paid back for its storm repairs by issuing low-interest bonds. Issued on Nov. 24, (2021) the 20-year bonds include storm recovery costs for hurricanes Florence, Michael and Dorian and Winter Storm Diego in North Carolina – an unprecedented series of storms that caused extensive damage to homes and businesses.”

In short, you’re still paying for the cost of the storms, and it could’ve been higher.

Regarding riders in general, Kureczka said the individual rider rate may change annually, but the charge on the invoice changes monthly because it is based on the customer’s billed kWh usage per month.

“Rider charges could be prorated based on changes to individual riders during the year,” she said. “Proration of charges during a billing month will create separate line items on the invoice.”

Question: Someone just told me that the Airport Authority purchased Broadmoor golf course for future expansion, which I thought was a good idea, but they said recently they leased it to Harrah’s for 50 years to develop a convention center. I have not seen this in the news. Maybe you can enlighten me on this.

My answer: I wonder what the over-under will be on Boeing jets losing their door plugs.

Real answer: The reader apparently got some bad information here.

“The information from your reader is incorrect,” Asheville Regional Airport spokesperson Tina Kinsey said via email. “As has been reported publicly and by many local news sources, developer DreamCatcher Hotels is planning a new eight-story upscale hotel with 12,000 square feet of meeting and conference space on the Broadmoor Golf Links site.”

One of those sources was me, in this column about the plans for the hotel and a timetable.

I also reached out again to Zeke Cooper, president & CEO of DreamCatcher Hotels, for an update. He, too, put the kibosh on the Harrah’s rumor.

“DreamCatcher Hotels is the developer, and correct, we have NO affiliation with Harrah’s,” Cooper said via email. “The hotel will be ‘DreamCatcher – Asheville’ and it will be affiliated with a leading global hotel/hospitality brand. I can’t share more details of that, yet.”

The hotel will have 152 rooms, 10,000-plus square feet of meeting/conference space, and multiple food and beverage outlets, Cooper added.

“The layout of the hotel has changed, due to the new brand affiliation needs as well as to ensure the layout meets all local code requirements,” Cooper said. “We are expecting to break ground this spring. After approvals/permits are received and we have a better timeline, we’ll let you know!”

Cooper’s company will be presenting updated plans to the Airport Board in the coming weeks, he said.

“Once we have updated the Board, I can share publicly the brand we are affiliated with and more detailed information about the design changes,” Cooper said. “I can say, for sure, this brand is not a casino/gaming enterprise, but a leader in the hotel industry.”

Asheville Watchdog is a nonprofit news team producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at  [email protected] or 828-337-0941. His Answer Man columns appear each Tuesday and Friday. To show your support for this vital public service go to avlwatchdog.org/donate.