Ohio Regulators Holding Hearing In Cincinnati Thursday On Duke Rate Request

Nov 1, 2017

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is holding a public hearing Thursday in Cincinnati to gather testimony on Duke Energy's request to increase electric distribution rates.

At issue is whether the company can charge more to deliver electric to residential homes.

The PUCO, on its website, says Duke requests increasing distribution rates by $15.4 million. The company's application says the average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours would experience a monthly bill increase of $1.15.

Some advocacy groups are circulating materials in advance of the Thursday hearing stating Duke is asking residential customers to pay an additional $200 a year "before you even flip on a light switch."

"That's unfair to those who use less energy, and especially hard for people with low incomes," an advocacy group flyer reads. "It discourages energy efficiency and home solar."

The advocacy groups are Ohio Citizens Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Faith in Public Life and the Consumers Union. 

The advocacy groups say in their materials the PUCO "held off on a fixed rate hike proposal" by AEP Ohio. 

Duke accuses those groups of spreading misinformation about what state regulators are being asked to approve.

"At the end of the day, under company's proposal to raise fixed costs and lower variable charges, the average Duke Energy Ohio residential customer [would] pay approximately the same amount per month that they would pay without these changes," Duke says in a written document.

Duke is seeking the distribution increase to pay for investments in its smart electric grid system. 

The PUCO staff issued a report in September recommending a Duke distribution revenue decrease between $18 and $29 million. Under the PUCO plan, the average residential customer's montly bill would decrease by $1.44.

The public hearing is at Cincinnati City Hall at 12:30 p.m.

The commission is not bound by the PUCO staff report and will make a final decision on the Duke rate request.