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- published 3/27 (Larry) - unpublished ?

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Opinion Editorial

The other day, I wandered up to Union Square to see what all the fuss was about.

There, along the sidewalk near the old Capitol, about four dozen folks — young and old — stood and sat. They waved signs. They chanted. At one point, they marched around the square.

About a dozen police, both from the Raleigh Police Department and the State Capitol Police, looked on for a while. When three of the protesters wouldn't get up from chairs lined up along the walkway, police arrested those three and five others who wouldn’t step aside.

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RALEIGH -- This week, state legislators will begin looking anew at an old problem -- debt taken on by 51 North Carolina communities back in the 1970s in order to provide electricity to their residents.

The debt, taken on as the municipalities decided to buy into new power plants, rose because of cost overruns at the plants. Declining inflation also meant that electricity rates in other communities didn't rise as much as predicted.

The result is that electricity rates in those 51 communities are much higher than the rest of state. In some cases, rates are as much as 50 percent higher.

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In 1938, with the U.S. still doggedly fighting to escape the Great Depression, FDR's administration declared the Southern region to be "America's Economic Problem Number 1." Although the country as a whole was struggling, the pain was most acutely felt in the South, which lagged by almost every economic measure: jobs, wage levels, family income and more.

Many of the reasons Roosevelt's experts gave for the South's dismal situation were specific to the era, like being "crushed" in the Civil War, the "vicious period" of Reconstruction and tariffs on cotton and tobacco. The way railroads were set up and subsidized in the late 1800s was still conferring a big advantage to Northern businesses.

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Some “readings” of woolly worms indicate that we are in for a long cold winter. If the proposed Duke Energy rate increases go into effect, it will be a more expensive one as well.

Duke Energy Carolinas was awarded an increase in 2009 that amounted to residential rates going up 8 percent. This time they are doubling down and asking for a 17 percent hike that, if approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC), would be implemented in February 2012.

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published: 10/18/2013
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