AG Cooper seeks to halt Duke Energy rate increase

Utilities Commission asked to give rate relief following Supreme Court ruling
Apr 29, 2013

Raleigh: Consumers deserve relief from higher energy rates following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down Duke Energy’s latest rate increase, Attorney General Roy Cooper told the Utilities Commission today.


“The Supreme Court agreed that focusing only on profits without taking customers into consideration isn’t a fair way to set utility rates,” Cooper said. “Families and businesses that have paid unfairly high power bills over the past year deserve a break.”


In a motion filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission Monday, Cooper argued that Duke Energy customers who have paid more for power since the Commission issued an order authorizing the rate hike should get lower energy rates going forward.


“It would be inequitable, especially in these economically challenging times, for Duke to continue to collect increased rates from consumers pursuant to a legally deficient Order,” Cooper argued in today’s filing.


The Utilities Commission last year agreed to let Duke Energy raise its customers’ rates by 7.2 percent in order to allow a 10.5 percent profit for the company.

Cooper fought the rate increase all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court, saying that consumers need to be taken into account when setting utility profit margins and evaluating requests for rate increases. In a ruling issued April 12, the Supreme Court ordered the Utilities Commission to determine the impact on consumers before setting an allowable profit margin and agreeing to raise rates.


“This ruling should serve as a guide for future decisions to lower utility company profits and consumer rates,” Cooper said.


Cooper’s office also planned to file a brief later today with the Utilities Commission arguing that Progress Energy’s recent request for a rate hike doesn’t adequately consider the impact on consumers.


The other major power company operating in North Carolina, Dominion Power, has requested a double-digit rate increase, and Duke Energy is seeking an additional rate increase.