Public hearings held on possible Duke rate increase

By Jacqueline Sprague - bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The cold weather is on the way, and with may come a rate hike by Duke Energy.

Needless to say, a lot of customers aren't happy about it.

There's been two public hearings so far, and even the Hamilton County Commission president is speaking out.

Todd Portune urged Ohio Utility Regulators to give close scrutiny to a proposed rate hike.

"An increase in gas and electric rates that already was going to be very difficult to pay for people in the wintertime coming up and now you're talking about paying more money for that. It's a huge worry," said Portune.

But Duke says the increase is necessary to cover operating costs, including fuel, and to conform to renewable energy requirements.

There are about 700,000 customers in southwest Ohio. The average household would see their bill go up about $5 a month. That's 4.3 percent rate hike for all customers.

"It covers the costs of environmental protection improvements that we've made at our power plants, increases in the costs of maintenance of those plants and the operation of those plants," said Steve Brash with Duke Energy.

"It seems to me right now that the rate hike is hurting a lot of people who are already hurting, you've got a lot of people who are losing jobs, losing their homes, losing healthcare," said Duke customer William Wallace.