New rates for natural gas favor industries over residential customers

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I finally read the yellow insert that came with my November utility bill and was astounded to see these words: “Customers using a large amount of natural gas ... will see more of a decrease in costs. However, customers using a minimal amount of gas ... will see an increase in costs.”

Then I saw this headline in The (Raleigh) News & Observer: “Utilities commission OKs discounts for industries.” On an inside page were these details: “The industrial discount was devised when Duke was seeking support for its merger with Progress Energy. Industrial customers agreed not to fight the merger in exchange for a promise that it would seek a special discount for the industrial power users.”

Yes, the ostensible reason for the discount is to keep industries from moving out of state and losing vital jobs. But all the industry has to do to qualify is to say that it is suffering some economic distress. It doesn’t have to support that claim, just make it. And if they pay less, we pay more, right?

I’m writing this on the last day of the climate talks in Paris, a meeting at which leaders from 194 nations have gathered to try to keep our oceans from swallowing a number of island nations as well as a good chunk of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The goal of the meeting is to get all 194 nations to agree to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as much as possible.

Carbon emissions? Utility bills? Yes, they are related. Carbon emissions are produced as we use natural gas to heat our homes. The city of Rocky Mount has announced that the new facilities charge in your utility bill may discourage you from trying to burn less fuel because it may actually cost you more money to burn less fuel.

Does this disconnect bother anyone else?

MARGARET E. 
SOWERWINE

Rocky Mount