Bryan Cohen Sep. 26, 2013, 7:30pm

RALEIGH, N.C. (Legal Newsline) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Wednesday that the latest rate hike for Duke Energy customers fails to adequately consider the impact on consumers and will be appealed.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved a rate increase requested by Duke Energy Carolinas.

The increase could raise consumers' rates by 4.5 percent for the first two years and 5.1 percent after that. The increase would allow a 10.2 percent shareholder profit for the utility and a capital structure of 53 percent equity.

"The order approving this rate hike talks a lot about consumers but doesn't really consider their interests," Cooper said. "Just paying lip service to the challenges North Carolinians face in tough economic times is not enough."

In an April 12 ruling, the North Carolina Supreme Court agreed with Cooper that the commission must determine the impact on consumers prior to setting an allowable profit margin and agreeing to increase rates.

"The law requires the commission to set rates as low as possible, and they haven't done that here," Cooper said. "The top court in the state agreed with us that consumers must be taken into account when deciding the utility's profit margin."

According to an analysis by Moody's, North Carolina residents pay a higher percentage of their household disposable income for electricity than all but six other U.S. states.

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