North Carolina - Duke Energy originally asked for an 18.6 percent residential rate increase. Now, the company is proposing a 7.2 percent rate increase instead. The reduced rate would add about seven bucks a month to the average customer's bill.
However, some customers say it's still too much. Attorney General Roy Cooper agrees and has promised to fight the proposed increase.
"Most working families and businesses would like to be able to have a 7.2 percent increase in income right now. But, in fact, many of them are having to deal with cuts. I think it's important for the company to have to deal with economic realities. Right now is not the time to get this money from consumers," Cooper said.
Duke Energy says your rate is determined by several factors: the cost to build, maintain and operate the electric system and also the ability to provide a reasonable rate of return for investors.
The company lowered the rate it was asking for by cutting down on the "rate of return," which essentially amounts to profit.
"It's the nature of compromise. Under the agreement, we will still be able to recover upon the investments that we've made in the electric system. And, also the agreement will better align the rates customers pay with the company's cost to serve them," Duke Energy Spokesperson Betsy Conway said.
The Utilities Commission is meeting this week to hear arguments from Duke Energy and those that oppose the rate increase, including the Attorney General's staff.
The commission will decide whether to approve the increase by mid-January.
If the increase goes through, Duke Energy says it will donate eleven million dollars to its "Share the Warmth" program which helps people who struggle to pay their energy bills.
Since the program began in 1985, more than $28 million has been donated to local agencies in North Carolina and South Carolina.
For more information about "Share the Warmth," visit:
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