Report: N.C. AG to file second appeal to state SC over Duke rate hike

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Nov 22, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Legal Newsline) -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper reportedly has filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court over a Duke Energy rate hike that was approved almost two years ago.

In 2012, Duke Energy initially applied to the North Carolina Utilities Commission to request that it be allowed to increase its revenues by about $646 million.

That increase would have raised the average Duke customer's monthly bill by about 17 percent, or, in many cases, an extra $20 a month. At that point, Cooper's office intervened.

Eventually, Duke and the commission agreed to a 7.2 percent hike.

But Cooper argues that the increase is still too much for consumers to pay.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the attorney general, who has said he plans to run for governor in 2016, filed a notice of appeal with the state's high court Thursday.

Cooper appealed to the court once before.

The court, in an April decision, overturned the commission's decision approving the rate hike.

It ruled that the commission did not properly analyze the issue before approving the 7.2 percent rate hike -- or 10.5 percent return on equity, or ROE.

In particular, the court agreed with Cooper that the commission must consider the impact of "changing economic conditions" on customers.

"It is clear that the commission must take customer interests into account when making an ROE determination," Justice Barbara Jackson wrote for the court.

The state's high court reversed the commission's order and remanded the case back to the commission with instructions to make an "independent" determination regarding the proper ROE.

Last month, the commission reaffirmed its original order.

Cooper argues in his notice that the commission did not hold a new hearing to allow for additional evidence.

The attorney general has appealed three other rate cases for similar reasons.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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