First of 3 public hearings for proposed Duke Energy rate increase is Monday

COLUMBUS, OH - The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) is encouraging customers of Duke Energy-Ohio to express their opinions about the utility's proposed electric distribution rate increase during upcoming public hearings before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO):

Cincinnati - Monday, March 16, 2009, 6:00 p.m., Union Township Civic Center Hall, 4350 Aicholtz Road

Cincinnati - Thursday, March 19, 2009, 12:30 p.m., Cincinnati City Hall, Council Chambers, 801 Plum Street

Liberty Township - Tuesday, March 24, 2009, 6:00 p.m., Lakota East High School, Freshman Campus, Auditorium, 7630 Bethany Road

The OCC, representing residential consumers in this case, has filed testimony stating that Duke has overstated its need for an $85.6 million increase in total distribution rates. In that testimony filed at the PUCO on Feb. 27, the OCC also provided evidence that Duke's proposed increase should be cut by more than half, to $46 million.

Sworn testimony provided by the public at the local hearings will become part of the official case and be considered as the PUCO Commissioners make a decision.

The local hearings are being held by the PUCO, which regulates investor-owned electric utilities and makes rate decisions. The OCC will attend the hearings and be available to answer consumers' questions.