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Duke Energy Progress rates rise 9.9% because of higher fuel costs

A Duke Energy substation.
Duke Energy
A Duke Energy substation. The company is raising rates because of higher fuel costs.

Electricity rates will rise 9.9% on Thursday for Duke Energy Progress customers in Asheville, Raleigh and eastern North Carolina, because of higher costs for natural gas. Duke says the increase will drop back to 9.3% on Jan. 1, when other rate adjustments for energy efficiency take effect.

The changes will add $11.70 to the monthly bill for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. The new typical monthly bill of $138.13 would still be below last year's national average of $150 a month, said Duke spokesman Bill Norton.

Duke Energy Carolinas customers in central North Carolina, including Durham, Greensboro and Charlotte, saw a similar 9.5% fuel-related increase starting Sept. 1.

"We work very hard to keep fuel costs as low as possible for customers," Norton said in an email. "Prices are rising throughout our economy, and fuel is no different. By law, there’s no markup on this fuel cost – customers pay what we pay, with all rate changes overseen by the North Carolina Utilities Commission."

But more rate increases not related to fuel costs are expected next year, when the company hopes to take advantage of a new state law that allows rate plans to cover multiple years. Duke has already asked the Utilities Commission for a 16% increase over three years for its eastern North Carolina/Asheville division. The commission has yet to take up that request.

Duke expects to file a similar request for Duke Energy Carolinas, which covers Charlotte, next year.

Norton said customers struggling with their bills can get help through its Share the Light fund. More information is at http://duke-energy.com/bill-help.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.