Bryan Cohen Jul. 2, 2013, 6:20pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper filed an appeal Monday with the North Carolina Supreme Court to stop Duke Energy Progress from receiving a 7.5 percent increase in electricity rates.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the rate hike by Duke Energy Progress, formerly known as Progress Energy. Cooper opposed the rate increase and said it was wrong to grant the company a rate increase while many North Carolinians are struggling financially.

"Many people are already hard pressed to pay their bills, and now isn't the time to ask them to pay more so utilities can make a bigger profit," Cooper said.

The appeal focuses on whether or not Progress should be allowed to raise customers' rates to make a 10.2 percent shareholder profit and a capital structure of 53 percent equity in the midst of a challenging economic climate. Cooper argued that Progress failed to prove its case for higher rates and that the utilities commission made a mistake in approving the increase.

Cooper noted the North Carolina Supreme Court's April 12 ruling that required the utilities commission to consider changing economic conditions when setting fair utility rates for consumers. Cooper argued the commission did not adequately consider consumer impact prior to granting the rate increase.

"Just talking about how consumers are hurting isn't enough," Cooper said. "As required by the North Carolina Supreme Court, we need a true analysis of what this rate hike would really mean for consumers during these challenging economic times."

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