Consumers asked to pay more next year for last year’s increases in utility costs

Michael Giberson

A story from the Charlotte Observer provides a reminder of the speed at which useful information about the scarcity of resources percolates through regulated electric utility rates: “Duke to seek rate increases.”

In brief, Duke Energy is requesting approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to raise rates beginning September 2009 and continuing at least through August 2010, because last year it paid more than the year before for coal and other fuel-related expenses. The article notes that Duke plans to make a similar request in South Carolina this summer, with new rates to take effect in October of this year.

Of course, like other energy prices, coal prices are much lower now than they were six months ago.  Carolinians can expect to benefit from today’s lower fuel prices beginning in the Fall of 2010.

Meanwhile, from the part of Texas with restructured retail electric power markets, the question isn’t how much future rates will have to rise to cover last year’s increase in costs, but rather: “Why haven’t Texas electric rates fallen more sharply?