Duke Energy's residential customers in this state can expect a 6.5 percent discount on their power bills starting next month.
The change will be a welcome surprise for recession-weary residents who have watched their power bills go up dramatically in recent years.
State regulators approved three rate adjustments this month for the Charlotte-based electric utility. The combined effect of the changes will reduce the monthly bill of a typical customer from $95.72 to $89.52.
The bill will rise to $90.11 a month on Jan. 1 when another adjustment is made to account for the company's costs for energy efficiency incentives and other energy conservation programs.
A typical customer uses 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month, though actual usage varies by the size of a home, its energy-efficiency and thermostat settings.
The main cause for the rate drop is the plummeting cost of coal and other fuels used by Duke's power plants. Duke is slightly increasing its costs for energy efficiency and renewable resources, such as solar energy, but those increases are not nearly big enough to offset the falling price of fuels.
Duke Energy has 1.8 million customers in North Carolina, including more than 160,000 in Durham, Chapel Hill and western parts of the Triangle.