Duke Energy proposes increase for Charlotte-area residential bills

Duke Energy is proposing to increase residential customers’ power bills in the Charlotte area while decreasing bills for commercial and industrial customers, the company announced Wednesday.

That proposal needs to be approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

If approved, it would go into effect the next day and residential customers would see an initial hike of 0.3 percent in their average bill. Four years after that time, bills would increase by 1.2 percent.

The delay in a bigger rate hike is because the commission had required Duke to refund customers $60 million annually for four years in money it collects from them in advance to pay eventual state income taxes.

In the first year of the rate hike, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month would see their bill increase from $103.85 to $104.69, according to Duke.

Residential customer usage often peaks during the hottest parts of the day in the summer and the coldest parts of the day in the winter, according to Duke. Large industrial customers typically have more consistent and predictable energy usage.

Meanwhile, Duke is seeking to initially cut commercial customers’ bills by 2.6 percent and industrial customers’ bills by 3.9 percent.

“The recent federal tax reform provides a unique opportunity to pass the direct benefits of that reform to customers,” David Fountain, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president, said in a statement.

In June, the utilities commission rejected Duke Energy’s request to raise customers’ rates, requiring the company to instead have a net rate decrease across customer types. The Wednesday proposal was in response to that order.

In its order, the commission pointed to benefits Duke is getting from a lower tax rate for corporations approved by Congress last year.

Cassie Cope: 704-358-5926, @cassielcope