NC Supreme Court Considers Case That Could Stop Duke Energy Bills Increase

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's Supreme Court is considering a case that could pressure utilities regulators to justify rate increase decisions that can involve hundreds of millions of dollars.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper's office argued to the high court Tuesday there's little evidence the North Carolina Utilities Commission independently analyzed a Duke Energy request to raise electricity prices for nearly 2 million customers.

The Supreme Court can reverse the commission's decision this year to allow a 7 percent electricity rate increase, which generates an extra $310 million a year for the country's largest electricity company. The company was also allowed a 10 percent profit.

Attorneys for the state's utilities regulator and Duke Energy told the court the impact of higher rates was considered and the company's earlier 15 percent increase request reduced.