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Duke To Cut Rate Hike Request To 12 Percent

Duke Energy plans to reduce its request for an overall rate increase from 15 to 12 percent. The utility has faced a lot of protest over its plan to hike rates for its North Carolina customers. The Attorney General came out against the rate hike and the state's consumer advocate recommended cutting it to about 5 percent. Betsy Conway, a Duke spokeswoman says, the utility listened to its customers. "We believe that our proposed increase of 12 percent strikes the right balance between the needs of our customers and the needs of the company," says Conway. Duke has also agreed to spend $15 million to help low-income customers. The company says the most of the increase would go toward paying off upgrades to power plants like the new coal-fired unit at the Cliffside plant and improvements to the utility's distribution system. The N.C. Utilities Commission will begin hearings on the rate hike later this month.