Chief Counsel Explains Why Rate Increase Will Likely Be Lower Than Requested

6:17 PM, Oct 13, 2011   |    comments
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Charlotte, NC -- You're already paying a lot more for gas and groceries. Your utility bill could be next.

We've been on top of Duke Energy's request to raise its customers' rates on average by 15-percent.

Residents could see as much as an 18-percent jump.

Well --- we found out Thursday --- the amount of that rate increase is not a sure thing. 

A Duke spokesman said the rate increase will make up for $4.8 billion already spent on various plant upgrades and other expenses.

They're also asking to raise the limit on how much they can make for stockholders. The current limit is 10.7%; Duke wants to raise it to 11.5%.

An investigator for the NC Utilities Commission talked about the process for approving a hike on the Good Morning Show, Thursday.  She said her team will likely recommend a lower rate increase, and recommend lowering the limit on what Duke can pay stockholders.

We went to Raleigh talk to her more on Thursday afternoon.  Tony Wike is the Chief Counsel for the NC Utilities Commission.

Wike said the legal department has not finalized its recommendation to the commission.

But she said Duke Energy's request is excessive.

So, we asked if customers can rest assured then that they're not going to see a 15-percent rate hike on average based on you already consider it too high?

"I would hope they could and I would be surprised if the ultimate outcome is a 15-percent rate hike. I'm pretty confident it will be less. How much less I cannot say," explained Wike. 

Now remember, if you don't want this increase to pass, you can speak up.

The NC Utilities Commission approves rate increases.

They're traveling around the state holding public hearings.

There's only one in the Triad on Thursday, October 27 at City Hall in High Point at 7PM.

WFMY News 2

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