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Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

Duke Will Continue To Pass On Savings From Tax Cut

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North Carolina utilities are paying less in taxes to due to the legislature’s tax overhaul last year. The NC Utilities Commission says companies no longer have to pass on those savings to customers but Duke Energy still plans to.

The tax overhaul will save Duke Energy about $20 million a year. In May, the NC Utilities Commission told companies they had to pass that savings on to customers right away, but the commission reversed that decision this month.

"We support the legal conclusions the commission made in that October 9th decision," says Duke Energy spokeswoman Lisa Parrish.

Still, she says, Duke isn’t going to raise rates now, even though it fought the commission’s initial ruling. [Dominion North Carolina Power and PSNC Energy appealed the commission’s initial ruling.  Duke Energy did not.]

"The reason is we’ve already reduced our rates to reflect the decrease in corporate income taxes. Beginning in July per the earlier order, we passed those savings on directly to our customers and will continue to do so."

The savings aren’t much for the typical customer. It breaks down to about 25 cents a month for Duke customers and 15 cents for Progress customers. 

Even so, Chris Ayers says, it’s about fairness. He’s in charge of the Public Staff, the state’s consumer advocacy agency in utility rate matters. 

"If that rate component is decreasing, then those savings ought to be flowed onto ratepayers as a matter of equity," says Ayers.

PSNC Energy, the Triangle’s natural gas utility, has said it will also continue to pass those savings on. If other companies choose to do the same, Ayers says an appeal won’t be necessary. Besides, he thinks once lawmakers are back in session, they’ll make it clear that utilities can’t charge customers for taxes the company doesn’t pay.