NC Attorney General's Office argued against Duke Energy rate hike Tuesday

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina's attorney general wants state regulators to take another look at Duke's recent rate hike and on Tuesday his office argued that case before the N.C. Supreme Court.

Kevin Anderson, the attorney general's director of consumer protection, said state regulators did not do a complete job when they approved a 7.2 percent rate hike that went into effect in February.

"What more should the commission have done, or what more could it have done?" Duke Energy attorney Kiran Mehta asked the seven state Supreme Court justices. "And I would submit to you -- the answer to that --nothing!"

Mehta and an attorney for the state's consumer advocate, the NC Public Staff, defended regulators' decision before the court.

Robert Gruber, the public staff's executive director, said commissioners considered plenty of evidence before deciding how much more customers should pay.

"Two hundred thirty-seven witnesses testified in this case," Gruber said. "Over 90 hours of recorded testimony. Thousands of emails."

But Anderson said in its six pages of analysis, the North Carolina Utilities Commission only cited testimony and didn't explain how exactly the commission reached its decision and drew its own conclusions.

"There has to be sufficient evidence on the record supporting its conclusion," he said. "And our argument here is that there wasn't."

Anderson said customers didn't get the same consideration as shareholders, who will receive up to a 10.5 percent return.

Duke said it's a fair balance between their investors and consumers. But Anderson wants regulators to review this rate case again.

"It would not be brand new for the Supreme Court to remand a rate case back to the commission for defects," he said.

Gruber said it could be months before the court comes back with a decision.