Duke Energy and the state's consumer advocate have agreed to cut Duke's rate request by more than half just days before public hearings are set to begin in Raleigh on Monday.
Charlotte-based Duke, the state's biggest electric utility, and the Public Staff have agreed to cut the rate increase to 7.2 percent, which would add about $7 to a typical monthly residential bill of $97 a month.
The last-minute settlement aligns Duke and the Public Staff in a contentious case that has generated 1,100 protest letters from customers in the past two months alone. A number of towns and county governments have urged the N.C. Utilities Commission, which will decide the case, to consider the plight of state residents in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in the past century.
The state's Attorney General, meanwhile, has vowed to continue fighting Duke's rate request. The Attorney General, who also represents state residents in public utility rate matters, has in the past taken a harder line than the Public Staff.
“A 7.2 percent rate increase is too much for working families and businesses during these tough economic times," according to a statement from the agency. "At the hearing, our attorneys will ask tough questions and urge the Utilities Commission to consider the impact on consumers.”