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Duke seeks 9.3% rate hike is SC

Duke Energy Monday submitted a rate-hike request to regulators in South Carolina. WFAE's Simone Orendain has more: Duke Energy wants to increase South Carolina residential customers' utility rates by more than nine percent. Duke Energy Spokesman Tim Pettit says the company is asking for a rate hike for the first time since 1991. He explains since then the company has spent more than $14 billion to build plants and add environmental controls at existing plants. "These are things that we needed to do to upgrade the system to be in compliance with regulations out there. Also the costs of building new transmission lines and new power lines to continue to serve our customers here in the Carolinas," says Pettit. The average residential energy bill would go up to about $97 a month. Commercial users would see an increase of about three percent. Over the first five years of the increase, the company proposes refunding customers at least $120 million. It's from two things: energy saving programs Duke Energy initially offered that were not needed because energy rates remained low. And low energy-use during this recession. So the proposed increase would work out to be about seven percent, at first. Last month, Duke Energy submitted a request to increase North Carolina's rate by 13 percent.