Raleigh, NC-- Duke Energy's approved rate increase in North Carolina may not be a done deal after all.
Wednesday, the state's top cop, Roy Cooper said he is appealing the rate increase decision. The rate increase was approved in January by the NC Utilities Commission.
Duke Energy had asked for a rate increase of about 17% but after many debates and public meetings opposing the increase, it was approved at seven percent.
Attorney General Roy Cooper released this statement about why he's appealing the decision: "The economic realities faced by North Carolina consumers must be put before company profits," Cooper said. "Hundreds of people have contacted my office to let us know they can't afford to pay much more for electricity in these tough times."
The appeal focuses not on whether Duke Energy should be allowed to recover its investments, but on whether it should be allowed to raise customers' rates in order to make a 10.5 percent shareholder profit in this challenging economic climate.
Cooper said he believes the Utilities Commission failed to properly take into account economic conditions faced by consumers as required by the state's attorney general office.
In the appeal, Cooper argues that the Utilities Commissioners' decision to grant a rate hike is not supported by evidence, particularly when the overwhelming majority of testimony by the public opposed a rate increase because any rate increase right now would be a burden.
"Many families and businesses are already struggling to pay their bills and the court needs to take this into account," Cooper said.
Earlier this year, Duke Energy applied to the Utilities Commission to request that the company be allowed to increase its revenues by approximately $646 million, to be passed along to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills. The rate hike originally proposed would have raised the average Duke customer's monthly bill by approximately 17 percent.