Local News

Progress Energy wants significant rate increase

Posted June 6, 2008 12:56 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2008 9:33 p.m. EDT

— Citing the need to cover the soaring cost of fuel for power plants, Progress Energy has asked the state to approve a 16.2 percent rate increase.

The Raleigh-based utility filed a petition Friday with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to increase rates by about $424 million.

If approved, the increase would raise the average monthly bill to $112.57 from the current $98.86.

"This is actually the highest fuel-related increase in our rates since the 1970s, and it's reflective of the same things all of us are seeing at the gas pumps," Progress spokesman Mike Hughes said. "Those same influences are having an impact on all the fuels that we use to generate electricity."

The price of coal, which Progress uses to generate about half its electricity in the Carolinas, has soared in recent months. Prices for natural gas and fuel oil, which account for about 5 percent of output, have also risen drastically.

The Utilities Commission will likely have a public hearing on the request in the fall. If approved, it would take effect Dec. 1.

Progress Energy Carolinas said it doesn't make a profit from the fuel cost component of the rates. The company files annually to recover fuel costs. This year's filing reflects anticipated future costs, given continued higher prices.

The utility, with 1.25 million customers in North Carolina, made a similar fuel-expense filing in South Carolina in April.