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N.C. attorney general appeals Duke rate hike again

Attorney General Roy Cooper has filed notice he will again appeal to the N.C. Supreme Court a Duke Energy Carolinas rate hike that was granted nearly two years ago.

Cooper says the N.C. Utilities Commission, in granting the 7.2 percent rate increase in January 2012, allowed Duke a profit margin that unfairly burdens consumers. He has appealed three other rate cases on similar grounds.

In a rare move, the Supreme Court sent the rate case back to the Utilities Commission for reconsideration. The commission reaffirmed its original order in October.

In his filing Thursday, Cooper faulted the commission for not holding a new hearing to allow additional evidence on Duke’s request. Duke Carolinas serves the Charlotte region and much of Western North Carolina.

“The heart of our argument, and the court agreed, is that the increase’s impact on consumers has not been properly evaluated,” said Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley. “That still hasn’t happened.”

While the commission heard from expert witnesses before granting Duke a 10.5 percent return on equity, or profit margin, Cooper’s staff has not offered its own experts.

Cooper, an expected candidate for governor in 2016, has said he will also appeal Duke Carolinas’ 4.5 percent rate increase granted this year.

He’s already appealing rate hikes for Duke Energy Progress, which serves Eastern North Carolina, and Dominion North Carolina Power in the state’s northeastern corner.

Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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