Public hearings held for Duke Energy's proposed rate increase

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A new plan on the table from Duke Energy may cost you more money even if you don't buy your electricity from Duke.

Ohio's electric de-regulation law allows customers to pick who supplies their electricity, and right now, Duke has nearly 40 competitors in Ohio.

However, Duke still delivers all the energy, does the maintenance, and collects the bills.

PJM Interconnection in Pennsylvania provides all the electricity, wholesale, to 13 states including Ohio.

Now, Duke says they've lost a quarter of their 680,000 customers and need to raise rates so they can assure that they can provide enough electricity for the next nine years.

The electric security plan submitted in June by Duke to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for review would be in effect until 2021, but Duke would have to meet with the PUCO on a yearly basis to set any further price increases.

At a public hearing held at Cincinnati State on Tuesday, several people opposed the plan because of environmental concerns, saying that although Duke is working to meet the EPA guidelines, they should be doing more than just the bare minimum.

Rachael Belz, of North College Hill, told Commissioner Paul Centolella that she was a Duke customer for 14 years, but switched recently to another supplier which lowered her bill by a third.

"It seems egregious to me that a company like Duke would come after people who have switched away in part because of cost. I think it's a way to get the monopoly back," said Belz.

"For an average residential customer that uses 1000 kilowatt hours, which is what an average residential customer uses, we're looking at about an 8 percent, or 10 dollars a month increase on their bill," said Sally Thelen, spokeswoman for Duke Energy.

Two more public hearings are scheduled for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on the current proposal by Duke Energy. They are:

September 8, 2011, 6:30 p.m., City Building, City Council Chambers, Lower Level
1 Donham Plaza, Middletown, Ohio 45042

September 9, 2011, 12:30 p.m., Cincinnati City Hall, Council Chambers
801 Plum Street, 8th and Plum Streets, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

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