Fuel costs to drive up power bills

The high price of coal and other fuels is sending N.C. power bills up this fall.

As part of an annual adjustment, the N.C. Utilities Commission approved a one-year rate increase for customers starting next month of nearly $4 a month on the average residential power bill of about $80-$85.

Future increases are likely because the price of coal has more than doubled the past year and some long-term contracts that locked in lower prices with suppliers will start expiring, said Duke spokesman Andy Thompson. “We will be seeing some additional higher costs in the future as we have to renegotiate,” he said.

Coal makes up about 52 percent of Duke's fuel mix. Nuclear accounts for about 46 percent, with hydro-electric, oil, natural gas and other renewables accounting for the rest.

The increase is part of an annual adjustment for fuel costs that fluctuate with the world markets. The increase represents $191.5 million in revenue and takes effect Sept. 1.

Duke has reached a settlement with consumer advocates in South Carolina for an increase, but it still needs approval from state regulators.