Duke Energy calls for another 3-month rate hike

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Duke Energy is seeking regulatory approval to raise its rates, citing rising fuel costs, for the second time in the past four months.

On July 28, Plainfield-based Duke Energy Indiana filed with the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission for approval of rate changes for its electric and steam utilities due to fuel. Duke Energy serves about 34,000 customers in Johnson County, and the application was filed as part of the utility’s quarterly Fuel Adjustment Clause, or FAC, tracker.

In filings, Duke Energy announced plans to increase its current electricity rates for residences by 7.2%, or 29.8% over what those customers paid for the same period last year. last. This would appear on bills as an additional $11.71 per bill cycle, meaning a residential customer with a bill of $163.53 right now would see it go up to $175.24. For commercial customers, rates will increase by less than 8.8% and for industrial customers, the rate will increase by less than 10.7%, according to filings.

If approved by regulators, the new tariffs would come into effect in October and run for three months until December. However, Duke Energy also requested that these tariffs be spread over six months, instead of the usual three-month period to reduce the impact, according to the request and Duke Energy officials.

This is Duke Energy’s second rate increase application to its FAC in the past four months. In June, the utility received regulatory approval for a 16% rate increase, or an additional $22.59 per month, which applies for a six-month period from July through December 2022. The two increases combined total $34.30 over the last two FCC proceedings, documents show.

Representatives of Duke Energy, which is Indiana’s largest electric utility company, said in testimony filed with the application that the increase was necessary due to the continued volatility in fuel markets, that the company had also cited in its previous request for a rate increase. The utility has seen a “significant and prolonged” rise in coal, natural gas and wholesale electricity prices between when their projections were made earlier this year and when previous rates went into effect. force, according to the documents filed.

Utility officials also said in filings that constraints related to high gas prices, coal supply and fossil fuel transportation have significantly affected how Duke Energy operates its fossil fuel thermal power plants and how the utility purchases energy and fuel in the market.

“Duke Energy Indiana has made every reasonable effort to acquire fuel and generate or purchase power or both in order to provide power to its retail customers at the lowest cost of fuel reasonably possible,” the report said. case.

Duke Energy officials said in a statement that the rate increases are not permanent. Fuel costs rise and fall, and the utility passes the costs on to customers without profit, meaning customers pay what Duke Energy pays, officials said.

“Our priority is to buy fuel at the best possible price, through steps such as long-term contracts and using a diversity of suppliers. To mitigate the impact on customer bills, we have offered to spread the recovery of some of these fuel costs over a longer period to reduce the impact on rates,” officials said in a statement.

The utility encourages customers who are struggling to pay their electric bills to call them at 800-521-2232. Customer service representatives can discuss payment plans and provide other resources for assistance. Duke Energy has also taken steps to help customers manage their bills by extending interest-free payment plans for eligible customers to six months, said Duke Energy spokeswoman Angeline Protogere.

More information can be found online at duke-energy.com.

Customers are also encouraged to check out tools like budget billing and high bill alerts to help them manage their bills. The High Bill Alerts feature is designed to let customers know if their bill is going to be higher than usual so they can adjust their electricity usage, Protogere said.

Financial assistance is available through Duke Energy’s Share the Light program, where eligible customers can receive up to $300 in assistance on their energy bill. The utility recently added $100,000 in funds to the program, she said.

There is also assistance available from the state of Indiana, Protogere said.

A public hearing on Duke Energy’s FAC follow-up request will be held at 1:30 p.m. on September 19 in room 222 of the PNC Center, 101 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis.

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