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Duke Energy Busted Violating Energy Grid Safety Regulations

Company given record fine … but still only “a fraction of the maximum amount allowed.”

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Already in trouble for its coal ash debacle, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy is now staring down a “record” $10 million fine from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for “serious and pervasive violations of rules designed to keep the nation’s electric system safe,” according to reporter Rebecca Smith of The Wall Street Journal.

According to Smith’s report, despite the record-setting nature of the fine Duke is still only paying “a fraction of the maximum amount allowed by law.”

A total of 127 violations spanning a period of several years are reportedly included in a regulatory filing associated with the $10 million fine – violations which “posed a serious risk to the security and reliability” of the electrical grid east of the Rocky Mountains.

Worse, the filing alleged that the company’s top management “passively accepted” these serious security risks, as evidenced by “repeated failures to implement physical and cyber security protections.”

“Many of the violations involved long durations, multiple instances of noncompliance, and repeated failures to implement physical and cybersecurity precautions,” the filing noted.

In other words, this is no small screw-up …

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Duke serves hundreds of thousands of residential customers in South Carolina.  The company is currently seeking a 12.1 percent rate hike on these customers (and an 8.3 percent rate hike on its commercial and industrial customers).  If approved by the S.C. Public Service Commission (SCPSC), these rate hikes would take effect on June 1 – however they have been challenged.

We will be sure to let our readers know what the SCPSC decides …

In the meantime, to read more on the status of utility rates in the Palmetto State be sure to check out our just-published post on the subject here.

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