Bryan Cohen Jun. 3, 2013, 8:31pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a statement Friday in opposition to a recently approved 7.5 percent rate increase for utility company Duke Energy Progress.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the rate increase on Sunday for consumers who get their power from Duke Energy Progress, formerly known as Progress Energy. Cooper opposed the rate increase and plans to appeal the increase to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

"This order puts utility profits ahead of people," Cooper said. "It talks about how much consumers are hurting but sticks them with higher rates anyway. A true analysis of the effect on struggling consumers as required by the North Carolina Supreme Court should result in lower rates so we plan to appeal this ruling."

Cooper recently appealed a 7.2 percent rate increase by Duke Energy, taking his appeal to the state Supreme Court. He said consumers must be taken into account when evaluating requests for rate increases and setting utility profit margins. The court ruled April 12 that the utilities commission must determine the impact on consumers prior to setting an allowable profit margin and agreeing to increase rates.

Cooper said the Supreme Court ruling should serve as a guide to the commission when considering all rate increase requests. He said the commission's decision to approve the Duke Energy Progress rate hike does not sufficiently consider consumer impact.

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