Q: What is the Basic Facility charge on my Duke Energy bill? Why do I pay county sales tax and sales taxes on my Duke Energy bill?
Answer: That is an existing charge that was on your bill previously but is spelled out differently now, according to Jimmy Flythe, a spokesman for Duke Energy in the Carolinas.
“This year, residential and non-residential customers began receiving a new, simplified energy bill,” Flythe said. “We designed it to help customers more easily view and understand their bill and energy usage. We used customer feedback and industry best practices to develop a new bill format designed to create a simple and uncluttered experience. Duke Energy introduced the new bill design to customers in the Carolinas in May.
"The $14 charge you're referring to is 'the basic facilities charge,' which is a fixed monthly amount not related to your electric usage and covers fixed costs of providing service to your location as well as maintaining customer records, billing and other transactions affecting your account,” Flythe said. “It is an existing monthly charge that has been included in your previous monthly bills and is applicable whether or not electricity is used. This information has been detailed in your bill in response to feedback from customers and regulators.”
The new bill format features a simple two-column layout with billing details on the left and important bill-related messages on the right; the use of color, bold text and icons to emphasize key information such as amount due; concise, jargon-free language and definitions of key terms; usage data (depending on the jurisdiction, this may be a new color line graph or a comparison chart) and more.
“We informed customers about the bill enhancements through a variety of communication channels, including duke-energy.com, email, bill messages and more,” Flythe said. “Customers also received a sneak peek at a sample bill through a bill insert and an online tutorial. While the bill is not available in Spanish, our interactive tutorial includes Spanish-translated descriptions of the various bill sections.”
Residential customers can read Duke Energy’s frequently asked questions and see the bill tutorial by visiting duke-energy.com/Enhance.
The N.C. Department of Revenue sets the sales tax rate on electricity. It is currently 7%, Flythe said.
Q: Is it allowable to construct a second driveway onto a residential property in the city of Winston-Salem? Is a permit required?
Answer: “Assuming that the reader lives on a city maintained street and not a NCDOT maintained street, residential driveways do not require a permit but commercial (driveways) do,” said Robert Prestwood, the city engineer for the City of Winston Salem “You can have a second entrance but the two entrances need to be at least 20 feet apart.”
Prestwood said that there are additional requirements for driveways. Those requirements include the thickness of concrete, minimum distances and inspection requirements. The information is in the city’s Infrastructure Development Standards on page V-14. The link to it is, https://www.cityofws.org/DocumentCenter/View/17334/2020-Infrastructure-Development-Standards-Revised-April-2020-PDF
Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101