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Duke rates will go up 5% for North Carolina residents

Duke Energy is increasing electricity rates by 5 percent for its customers in North Carolina to cover high fuel costs last year. The state's utilities commission approved the change today. The average household will be paying about $4 more for their energy each month. Utilities have a chance to adjust their rates every year based on fuel costs over the previous year and what they're expected to be for the next year. Paige Sheehan, a Duke Energy spokeswoman, says although fuel costs are lower now, last year they were much higher than what the utility budgeted for. "The market for coal for example has been all over the place and thankfully it has come back down significantly," says Sheehan. "But for the period of time that we're truing-up with our customers, over the last 12 months or so, a lot of that coal was purchased when the market was still high at higher prices and we're simply adjusting those costs." Duke says uranium and gas were also up last year. The higher fuel cost rates will go into effect September first. Regulators are still evaluating Duke's request to increase base rates. The utility asked for a 13 percent general rate hike in North Carolina and a 9 percent increase in South Carolina.