Nuance is missing in the energy debate in the Carolinas and other states. The either/or mentality hurts us at a time when discussing finance, technology, science, and social needs would help us all.

A recent letter to an NC State publication said, “…I’d rather not have my Duke Energy bill go up by 50% in the next 15 years.”

I can’t imagine anyone, including me, who wants any of our costs to go up, especially 50%.

Energy is an especially touchy topic when it comes to costs because power is an essential part of life. Everyone must have it. Power is almost always there when the switch gets flipped, too. We take power for granted.

Here’s a Jeopardy moment that makes an important point about cost:

  • The answer is: “Texas.”
  • The question is, “What state under-invested in its energy system and had deadly results?”

Texas wanted the lowest-cost power system. Texas got its free lunch in energy, for a while. Then, lunch was cold. That was last February.

Quality costs in so many products. Costs like research, rebuilding, maintaining are part of any tech advancement. Investment builds better lives. Ask me about my new $1,000 phone. Or look at the basic 2000 Ford Explorer with a base price of $19,970, $29,280 in 2010, and $41,170 today. Or the $119,600 median home price in 2000 that is $269,039 in 2021.

My phone is not the same as in 2000, nor my car or my home. They are better, smarter, more useful.

Same with our electric grid, which must implement new tech and meet higher customer expectations. I am no apologist for Duke Energy or other company, though I understand that change takes investment. The energy system of 2030 and 2040 will cost more than today.

This is why we need a regulatory body to review rate increases and ensure that we receive high-quality service at the lowest possible cost. In the process, stakeholder input is essential. Constructive questions and opinions for regulators and the utility.

Improvements take financial resources, whether paid through the state-sanctioned system or a multi-trillion-dollar bill from far away. It is just a change in location for the money, though it all comes from citizens in the end.

As I read the letter to the editor, I agree with a lot – address the climate, watch costs, get input from citizens, legislate sensibly, and seriously think ahead.

Let’s gather around those common needs and build a better future with each other, over a hot lunch.