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Duke Wants To Give Big Customers A Break

Duke Energy wants to give some of its largest industrial customers a one-year break on electric rates at a cost of $13 million to shareholders. Duke Energy spokesman Jason Walls says the company's industrial sales have declined 20 percent over the last decade as large manufacturing and industrial customers have either closed or scaled back. "Let's say they've gone from three shifts to two shifts or three shifts to one shift, and the way that our business works is the fixed costs to operate our system are spread across all the sales that are generated from the sale of electricity," says Walls. When a big customer closes its doors, the rest of Duke's customers end up with a heavier burden in covering the company's fixed costs, so Walls says a break for struggling industrial users benefits all of Duke's customers. If state regulators agree, Duke will offer industrial customers a six percent reduction in their power bills for one year. The pilot program will be available to businesses on a first-come, first-serve basis. Duke's other customers will still see their rates go up by an average of seven percent, as regulators recently approved. However, Walls notes that plan also included $11 million to help low income families pay their power bill.