Edward Finley, Jr., chair of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, denied a request by the Sierra Club to hold a fourth public hearing to collect testimony on Duke Energy Carolinas’ proposed rate increase. Attorneys representing the Sierra Club argued Duke customarily holds five public hearings, and making people travel further to comment will discourage from commenting exactly those expected to be hardest hit by the rate increases. Hearings are scheduled to take place in Charlotte, Franklin, and Greensboro. Citing “security issues,” Finley said the hearings had to be held in courthouses with security forces, among which it was difficult to find any willing to stay open after hours. Furthermore, anybody interested in commenting is welcome to submit remarks in writing. While it won’t be testimony per se, it will be added to the case file. Duke’s latest rate hike is more controversial than former ones because the utility is expected to spend billions of dollars closing its coal ash ponds and invest more in green means of power generation and transmission.