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Progress Energy wants 14 percent hike for NC homes

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Progress Energy on Friday asked North Carolina regulators to allow an increase in electricity rates, which would raise the average home's power costs by almost $180 a year.

The subsidiary of Charlotte-based Duke Energy filed its request with the North Carolina Utilities Commission seeking to raise residential rates by an average 14 percent, and for commercial and industrial customers by 9 percent.

The company said it's the first time in a quarter century that Progress Energy or its predecessors have sought a general rate increase. Rates are adjusted annually to recover changing fuel costs.

The average monthly power bill of the typical Progress Energy customer would increase to $120 from $105 if the company's request is approved.

The electric utility said it needs the money to recoup investments in modernizing power plants to reduce pollution. Progress Energy and its predecessor, Carolina Power & Light, have invested nearly $11 billion since 1987 in the power systems that serve 1.3 million North Carolina customers.

Friday's rate request, which Progress Energy wants to take effect next year, would increase the company's revenues by about $387 million a year.

Progress Energy Carolinas expects to file a base rate request in South Carolina in 2013.

Duke Energy Carolinas expects to file general rate cases in both states in the coming months.

Regulators granted Duke Energy an average rate increase of 7 percent in January, boosting average residential rates by about $7 per month. Attorney General Roy Cooper is challenging that rate increase in court and a hearing is scheduled before the Supreme Court next month.

Duke Energy said the requested rate increase is not related to its takeover of Progress Energy, which was finalized in July.

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