State Attorney General Roy Cooper says he will appeal Duke Energy's latest rate hike. The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved a plan this week allowing the nation's largest utility a to increase consumer rates by 4.5 percent for the first two years and by 5.1 percent in the third year.
Cooper says those increases will result in a profit margin of more than 10 percent for the utility. He says that's too high for Duke Energy customers to bear.
"That's a Wall Street profit, not main street," Cooper says.
"The stock market has recovered but North Carolina's economy has not. We believe that a significantly lower profit margin is justified. A lower profit margin would have eliminated the need for a rate increase."
Cooper argued successfully before the state Supreme Court last April that the Utilities Commission did not follow state law in considering first the impact of rate hikes on consumers.
"Even with the proposed rate increase, our customers are still paying lower rates than they did in 1991 when adjusted for inflation," says Duke Energy spokeswoman Lisa Parrish.
"Our job is to make sure that our plants are in top condition and that means replacing them when they're no longer efficient."
Duke Energy says the increase will allow the company to recover money spent building new power-generating facilities for its customers.