Biz Roundup: Duke Energy programs offer relief from high cooling costs this summer – Reuters

Duke Energy offers a wide range of programs and plans to help customers reduce their energy consumption and manage their bills.

Since mid-2021, the costs of fuels used to generate energy have more than tripled. Duke Energy is not profiting from these cost increases and the company is proactively taking steps to insulate customers from these spikes. These steps include negotiating long-term fuel contracts and maintaining a diverse energy mix, including nuclear, solar and hydroelectric, for power generation.

“With the price of everything going up right now, we want to minimize the impact on our customers as much as possible,” said Larry Hatcher, senior vice president of customer experience and services. “We offer a variety of programs ranging from payment flexibility to financial assistance that will help our customers who may be struggling with higher bills.”

Two payment options include flexible payment plans and the budget billing plan. Payment plans allow residential customers to pay off their balance over a longer period. Options are available for customers who need a few extra days or need a longer installment plan to catch up.

The Budget Billing plan is a free and popular option for customers who like to know what to expect each month. It provides predictable monthly energy bills to help customers build their family budget.

There are several programs to improve a home’s energy efficiency for customers who want to take proactive steps to keep their energy bills manageable.

Customers who have registered email and a smart meter receive a mid-cycle usage alert to provide a mid-month view of their current usage to date and a projection of their monthly bill at their rate of current use. They can also access daily usage through their online account profile. These tools are intended to give customers insight and control over their energy consumption.

The Home Energy House Call is a free program for eligible Duke Energy homeowners (in Florida the program is called Home Energy Check). Customers receive a free assessment detailing steps they can take to increase efficiency and lower their energy bill and a free kit with energy-saving products worth over $180.

In most Duke Energy territories, customers can save at the company’s online store at duke-energy.com, which offers energy-efficient appliances such as thermostats, lights and faucets. Also on the website, customers can discover discount offers for doing home improvement work to save energy.

To help connect our customers who need assistance, Duke Energy partners with community and state agencies to help eligible individuals access Duke Energy and federally funded assistance programs. Programs and eligibility vary by service territory, so customers can find more information by visiting duke-energy.com or calling our Customer Service Center.

• Crisis Response Program (CRP) covers heating and cooling related crises and is available year-round.

• The Weather Protection Program helps qualified customers save energy and reduce expenses through energy-saving measures such as weather stripping and HVAC repairs or replacements.

• The Helping Home Fund is available to income-qualified applicants in several Duke Energy operating jurisdictions. It provides home energy assessments and improvements such as appliance replacements and HVAC repairs up to $800.

• The Neighborhood Energy Saver program is also available to income-qualified customers to help them reduce their energy bills through home energy assessments.

• The Duke Energy Share the Light Fund also helps eligible customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Duke Energy employees, customers and shareholders contribute to these funds, to which the Duke Energy Foundation contributes.

North Carolina May job numbers released

RALEIGH — The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May 2022 was 3.4%, remaining unchanged from the revised rate in April. The national rate remained unchanged at 3.6%.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell 1.6 percentage points from a year ago. The number of people employed increased by 33,419 during the month to 4,916,580 and increased by 218,327 during the year. The number of unemployed fell by 2,361 during the month to 170,970 and fell by 76,321 during the year.

Seasonally-adjusted total non-farm employment, as collected by the monthly establishment survey, rose by 7,000 to 4,728,200 in May. The top industries seeing increases were manufacturing, 3,700; Financial activities, 2,200; Leisure and hospitality services, 1,700; Education and health services, 1,300; Construction, 1,200; Professional and business services, 1,200; other services, 1,000; and Information, 100. The main industries with declines were trade, transportation and utilities, 4,300 and government, 1,100. Employment in mining and logging remained unchanged.

Since May 2021, total non-farm payrolls increased by 165,300, with total private sector increasing by 154,600 and government increasing by 10,700. The top industries seeing increases were recreation and hospitality services, 43,500; Professional and business services, 43,300; Manufacturing, 15,600; Financial activities, 14,500; Education and health services, 13,200; Government, 10,700; Commerce, transport and public services, 9,600; other services, 7,500; Information, 5,400 and Construction, 2,200. The only major industry that saw a decline during the year was mining and logging, 200.

The next unemployment update is scheduled for June 29, when the county’s unemployment rates for May 2022 will be released.

Attorney General announces $233 million multi-state Medicaid settlement with Mallinckrodt

RALEIGH – Attorney General Josh Stein announced today that he has reached a $233.7 million settlement to resolve allegations that the pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt ARD, LLC (formerly known as Questcor Pharmaceuticals) allegedly knowingly underpaid Medicaid drug discounts for his HP drug Acthar Gel (Acthar).

North Carolina will receive $13.78 million in restitution and other recoveries. The company is the US subsidiary of Irish pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt plc.

“When drug companies hijack the Medicaid program, they make it harder for North Carolina residents to get the care and medications they need to stay healthy,” Attorney General Josh Stein said. “I am thrilled that Mallinckrodt is restoring North Carolina’s Medicaid program. My office will always hold businesses and health care providers accountable when they defraud taxpayers.

Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate program, when a manufacturer increases the price of a drug faster than the rate of inflation, it must pay the Medicaid program a unit rebate equal to the difference between the drug’s current price and the price of the medicine if he had disappeared. at the general inflation rate since 1990 or the year the drug first entered the market, whichever is later.

However, Attorney General Stein, along with 49 other states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the federal government, alleged that Mallinckrodt and its predecessor Questcor began paying rebates for Acthar in 2013 as if Acthar was a “new drug.” which had just been approved by the United States. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), rather than a drug first introduced to the market in 1952. Apparently, this practice meant that companies ignored all pre-2013 price increases when calculating and paying Medicaid rebates for Acthar from 2013 to 2020.

In particular, the government alleges that the price of Acthar had already increased to more than $28,000 per vial in 2013, so ignoring all pre-2013 price increases significantly reduced Medicaid rebate payments for Acthar. The governments alleged that Mallinckrodt’s conduct violated the Federal False Claims Act and the North Carolina False Claims Act and resulted in the submission of false claims to the North Carolina Medicaid program.

Under the settlement agreement, Mallinckrodt admitted that Acthar was not a new drug as of 2013, but was in fact approved by the FDA and marketed before 1990. Mallinckrodt agreed to correct the Acthar’s AMP base date and that it will not change the date in the future.

This settlement results from a whistleblower lawsuit originally filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The federal government, twenty-six states, including North Carolina, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, intervened in the civil action in 2020. The settlement, which is based on Mallinckrodt’s financial situation, required the U.S. Bankruptcy Court final approval for the district. of Delaware. A team from the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units participated in the litigation and conducted settlement negotiations on behalf of the states.

Attorney General Stein previously announced a separate settlement with Mallinckrodt in October 2020 to address the company’s misconduct in manufacturing opioids. This settlement also received final approval from the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.

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