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NC UTILITIES COMMISSION HEARINGS ON DUKE ENERGY RATE INCREASE WERE SET TO BEGIN MONDAY

NC UTILITIES COMMISSION HEARINGS ON DUKE ENERGY RATE INCREASE WERE SET TO BEGIN MONDAY NC UTILITIES COMMISSION HEARINGS ON DUKE ENERGY RATE INCREASE WERE SET TO BEGIN MONDAY

IN A DEAL ANNOUNCED LAST MONDAY MORNING, DUKE ENERGY SAYS THEY'LL SETTLE FOR A 13 PER CENT RATE INCREASE FOR MANY IN WNC AND HENDERSON COUNTY COULD BE RACING THAT 16.7 PER CENT INCRESDE.

AVERAGE HOMEOWNER'S BILL WILL GO UP ABOUT $18 A MONTH   

THE 16.7 % INCREASE WOULD APPLY TO DUKE'S "CAROLINA" AREA WHICH INCLUDES HENDERSON, POLK, TRANSYLVANIA AND ABOUT TWO DOZEN OTHER COUNTIES.   

The country's largest electric company heads into a fight for a rate hike with regulators in its top market now focused on setting a precedent on whether consumers should pay the full cost of cleaning up coal ash pits loaded with toxic metals.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission opens hearings Monday into whether Duke Energy Corp. will be allowed to charge consumers nearly $200 million a year for the cleanup.

The company and the state's official utilities consumer advocate reached a tentative deal last week that would cut the requested rate increase of almost 15 percent. The deal involved Duke Energy slightly reducing its requested potential profit margin from 10.75 percent to 9.9 percent, speeding up consumer repayment of some deferred taxes and other moves.

"We are pleased that we were able to work together to find common ground in this request, and believe this is an important and positive step in this proceeding," spokesman Jeff Brooks said in an email.

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