State agency wants Duke rate increase denied

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana agency advised regulators to deny Duke Energy's request to increase average monthly charges by as much as $23 per customer, countering that fees should instead be lowered.

Indiana's Office of Utility Consumer Counselor Bill Fine has recommended that the utility reduce its average charges by nearly $8 a month, yet another push back Indiana's largest utility was dealt since it proposed a rate increase.

Duke Energy in July asked the state Utility Regulatory Commission to approve a 15% rate increase over two years that would boost its annual revenue by about $395 million.

Consumer groups have said the company hasn't been transparent about how it determined the proposed rate increase, the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday.

Duke Energy has said it provided the necessary paperwork and disagrees with the counselor's recommendation. Duke spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said the rate cases are legal proceedings that unsurprisingly have "adversarial positions like this."

The utility said the proposed increase is to accommodate customer growth, update a grid and transition to cleaner energy.

The consumer counselor's office, Citizens Action Coalition, Sierra Club, Walmart, Kroger and other big customers have asked the IURC to order Duke to refile all its rate case paperwork and exhibits, with formulas and linked spreadsheets.

But utility regulators, who are also appointed by the governor— sided with the company, denying the motion.

Protogere said the denial shows Duke has met the regulatory commission's requirements and best practices for filing its rate case.

The utility has "gone above and beyond what is required," she added.

It was not immediately known when final rates would be approved.

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