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Fuel costs push up Duke Energy bills in central and western North Carolina

High-voltage power lines in northern Mecklenburg County.
David Boraks
High-voltage power lines in northern Mecklenburg County.

Electric bills in central and western North Carolina are going up more than 12% Sept. 1, after regulators approved Duke Energy's request to raise rates because of higher fuel costs.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved an 11.7% fuel-related rate hike for Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves western and central North Carolina, including Durham, the Triad and Charlotte. It repays Duke for higher natural gas and coal costs last year. Duke had requested 16%. Regulators agreed but spread the recovery period out over 16 months, instead of 12 months.

The increase also was lower because of slight decreases in other bill items.

Separately, the commission last week granted Duke Energy Carolinas a temporary increase of 0.9% while it waits for regulators to hold hearings and to approve a requested three-year 16% increase.

Altogether, the two increases will raise the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity by $14.71 a month, to $131.70.

Meanwhile, an expert witness hearing on Duke Energy Carolinas' request begins Monday.

Last week, regulators approved an 11.3% rate increase for Duke Energy Progress customers in eastern North Carolina and Asheville. That was less than Duke asked for.

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