State Fights Duke Energy's Proposed Rate Hikes

The state is fighting a proposal by Duke Energy to raise customer rates to help pay for nuclear plants that have yet to be built.

The Charlotte-based utility has asked the state Utilities Commission for a rate increase to pay for 125 (m) million dollars in development and licensing costs through 2007 for two nuclear reactors.

Duke Energy hasn't asked for a specific rate change, but it's requested the right to file a rate case later. The utility says the company is concerned about spending large sums of money without any assurance of timely and sufficient cost recovery.

Attorney General Roy Cooper has joined the Public Staff in opposing the plan. The request is also opposed by private environmental and consumer groups.

The Public Staff is the commission's consumer advocacy arm.