As a cold spell chills the Triangle, here's a reminder that might warm the hearts of homeowners.
On Dec. 1, Progress Energy reduced its rates for the first time in five years, meaning that the usual increase on electricity bills during the winter months will be tempered slightly.
But don't celebrate too much and keep your sweater on. The average bill for a household using 1,000 kilowatts hours a month dropped by about 35 cents, or $4.20 a year.
The reduction reflects the lower costs that the Raleigh-based utility pays for coal and other fuels. And it's only a tiny reversal of surging energy prices in recent years. In 2008, Progress Energy raised rates about $10 a month.
Homeowners that use natural gas for heat also are getting a break this winter. PSNC Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have both cut rates in recent months to reflect declining prices for that fuel. PSNC is now charging about 28 percent less than a year ago, shaving $38 a month off the typical home bill.
The news isn't as rosy for thousands of customers in the western Triangle that get power from Duke Energy. The Charlotte-based utility raised its rates about $7 a month on Jan. 1.