Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today



Contests and

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


North Carolina

Funding New Power Plants

Should consumers or investors pay?

Karen Tucker looks at bills, North Carolina AARP utility training

Karen Tucker, 54, of Reidsville, is among the AARP volunteers who will receive training on how to fight an expected legislative proposal by utility companies that could lead to higher electricity rates. — D.L. Anderson

Illness forced Karen Tucker, 54, of Reidsville into early retirement from her job as a registered nurse, but she hasn't stopped helping people. This month, she'll attend an AARP training session to learn how to fight an expected proposal that could lead to higher rates for electricity.

AARP North Carolina is concerned that the General Assembly will follow the lead of states that allow utilities to more easily pass on power plant construction costs to customers.

That would hit people on fixed incomes hardest, especially the more than 1.2 million North Carolinians who are 65 or older.

Fixed incomes but not fixed bills

Paying for essentials is already difficult for Tucker and many older adults she talks to at church and through her volunteer work.

"They'd say, 'We don't have enough money to pay our utility bills.' Or 'I'm going to have to leave my house and go live with my daughter or find someplace to go,' " said Tucker, whose electric bill has been as high as $300 a month.

Duke Energy, which increased its rates 7.2 percent in February, wants a change in North Carolina's "Construction Work in Progress" law, which requires full rate hearings before construction financing costs are passed on to consumers.

Duke wants a streamlined rate-hike process that looks only at construction financing costs, not all aspects of its rate structure. Rate hearings are lengthy, and the cost of the extensive hearings is ultimately borne by customers, according to Betsy Conway, a Duke Energy spokeswoman.

Consumer advocates worry that the shorter process would give consumers less opportunity to fully review proposed rate hikes and raise objections.

Because of its recent merger with Progress Energy, Duke Energy has not yet set its agenda for the legislature's 2013-14 session. But Conway made it clear the company will seek the change eventually.

"The ability to recover financing costs during plant construction helps keep the cost of borrowing money lower, which, in turn, lowers the overall cost of the plant," she said.

Developing new electricity-generation plants and upgrading older ones is as necessary as planning for new schools when the population is increasing, she said.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.