RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina regulators are holding a hearing into whether to allow Duke Energy to raise electricity bills for nearly two million customers.
The state Utilities Commission on Monday hears the pros and cons of a rate increase that would be the third since 2009 for customers of Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves the western part of the Triangle and much of western North Carolina.
A proposed settlement with the state's official consumer advocate would allow Duke to raise rates by 4.5 percent overall, increasing to 5 percent after two years.
The power company said the rate increase would total $205 million in each of the first two years, increasing to $235 million after the third year.
Duke initially sought about twice that much.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered on the Halifax Mall outside the Utilities Commission offices to protest the proposed increase, equating Duke with the "Monopoly" board game.
Watchdog group NC WARN says it plans to argue during the hearings that Duke should refund customers money instead of raising rates, questioning its accounting practices and claiming that the utility improperly shifted costs from large industrial users of electricity to residential homeowners.