NC attorney general to argue against Duke Energy Tuesday

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper will argue against Duke Energy's rate hike in the N.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Cooper said the rate increase of 7.2 percent, which the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved in January, is too much for many of Duke's customers, including those who are on fixed incomes or have lost their jobs.

The rate increase took effect in February.

Cooper also argues that the 10.5 percent return for shareholders approved by the NCUC as part of the rate increase is also too high.

Eyewitness News asked a Duke spokesperson what would happen to the current rates and the money already paid if the court rules in the attorney general's favor, but he said it was unclear to him since the company hasn't dealt with this kind of challenge in recent memory.

Some customers said they were glad to hear Cooper was fighting for every dime.

"It matters to a lot of people, especially in this economy," Masha Lukashin said.

Duke officials would not comment on camera but did issue a statement, which read in part: "We know there's never a good time for a rate increase and we have worked hard to keep costs low for our customers. Maintaining a system of electric service for millions of North Carolina homes and businesses involves continuous investment, and by law we are entitled to recoup that investment."

Eyewitness News will be in the courtroom in Raleigh on Tuesday and will have updates from the hearing.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is not expected to be in attendance.