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Expect More Rate Increases For Power Bills, Officials Say

Posted September 27, 2005

— It's official. It's going to cost more to stay warm this winter.

The state Utilities Commission recently approved a 22 percent increase for PSNC Energy, raising its costs to an all-time record. The increase will add $28 to the natural gas cost of an average home, raising the bill to about $156 a month.

Progress Energy's 4.4 percent increase, effective Oct. 1, will raise the bill of the average household by $3.77 a month, to $90.43.

Energy experts said the latest price hike could mark the beginning of an upward trend in home energy costs.

Mike Hughes, spokesperson for Progress Energy, said all indications are that more rate hikes will follow.

"The fossil fuels that we use to generate electricity will continue to rise," he said. "We're not seeing any indication that the cost will go back down in any of those areas."

Progress Energy said the obvious answer to increasing rates is nuclear power. The company is considering building another nuclear power plant like the


facility within the next 15 years.

Officials said that could be the surest way to stop rising electric bills. Until that happens, continued rate increases could burn your wallet in more ways than one as businesses and other industries pass on the cost to consumers.

But economist Mike Walden said there is some good news.

"There are several factors of major prices that have actually been going down. This has not been well recognized," he said. "If you look at household furniture costs, clothes, anything audio or visual, appliances, new vehicles -- all those products have been going down for several years."

The state utilities commission also approved a rate hike for Duke Power back in May. Dominion North Carolina will go before the commission in November.


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