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Duke Energy Carolinas Rates Rising 0.8% June 1, More In Future Years

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David Boraks
Duke Energy's Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman.

Electricity rates in Duke Energy's western North Carolina territory including Charlotte will rise 0.8% June 1 under a regulatory order in March. But that's not as high as it might have been, thanks to excess income taxes that Duke charged for and is now refunding to customers.

The increase would be $1.71 a month for a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatts of electricity. That's lower than it might have been because of the refund. Duke passed along those taxes to customers, but its tax bill was reduced when Congress slashed corporate taxes from a top rate of 35% to 21% in 2018. (After various tax deductions, Duke actually has paid no federal income taxes in recent years.)

Duke is refunding those excess taxes over five years. When the refunds end, a typical monthly bill will be $8.45 higher, Duke said in the filing.

Duke detailed the practical effect of the rate increase in the filing Thursday with the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

In the March order, regulators reduced Duke's originally requested rate increase from 6%. The order also approved a January settlement between the company, the state Attorney General's office and the Sierra Club over the cost of cleaning up coal ash — the residue left after burning coal for electricity. The order allows Duke to charge customers for cleanups, but less than it requested.

Besides coal ash cleanups, the high rates will allow Duke to recover costs — plus a profit — for other investments in energy generation and the power grid, among other things.

"It's really all the investments that we've been making over time to make our energy system more reliable and to transition to cleaner generation," said Duke spokesperson Meredith Archie.

The rates for Duke Energy Carolinas are expected to take effect June 1, after one final review by the utilities commission.

Archie said Duke also plans to file details in the next week or so about how a similar rate order will affect customers of Duke Energy Progress, which serves the eastern part of the state and the Asheville area.

See Duke's rate filing notice at NCUC.net.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.