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Duke Seeks to Boost North Carolina Rates by $387 Million

Duke Energy Corp.’s Progress Energy Carolinas filed a request for its first general rate increase since 1987, asking regulators to boost revenues by about $387 million a year.

If the request is approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, average residential bills would increase a net 14.2 percent and commercial and industrial customers would pay about 9 percent more, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy said in a statement today.

Most of the additional funds are needed to upgrade the power system, the company said. The utility expects to file a rate request in South Carolina next year and its affiliate Duke Energy Carolinas will file general rate cases in both states in the coming months, it said.

The request comes three months after Duke’s acquisition of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Progress Energy Inc. closed on July 2, creating the largest U.S. utility owner by market value. The company announced the next morning that it replaced Progress Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson with Duke CEO Jim Rogers. The change triggered investigations by North Carolina regulators and the state’s attorney general.

The rate request wasn’t due to the merger and Duke isn’t seeking to recover any associated employee severance costs, the company said in the statement.

The request is a separate matter from the merger investigation, Len Green, a senior staff attorney with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, said in a telephone interview today.

Duke fell 0.5 percent to $64.16 at the close in New York.

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