Duke Energy seeking a 7.2 percent increase

INDIANA – Duke Energy Indiana is seeking a 7.2% rate increase for residential customers that would show up on bills beginning in October if approved.

The request comes on the heels of a 16% temporary rate hike that began in July.

Suzanne Sieferman, director of rates and regulatory planning at Duke, said in her July 28 testimony to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission that the proposed new increase is needed because fuel markets have been volatile and there has been a “significant and prolonged” rise in the price of coal and natural gas.

“This run-up in the market price of fuel and purchased power has resulted in Duke Energy Indiana experiencing a sizeable under-collection for the current March through May 2022 reconciliation period,” Sieferman said in her testimony.

The recent customer rate increases were requested through a fuel-adjustment cost process separate from base rate hikes.

Stan Pinegar

Fuel prices to produce electricity have been the highest sustained increase Duke has seen in a decade, Stan Pinegar, president of Duke Energy Indiana, wrote in a recent letter addressing customers.

“Our priority is to purchase fuel at the best possible price, through steps such as long-term contracts and using a diversity of suppliers,” Pinegar wrote. “To lessen the impact on customer bills, we have proposed spreading recovery of some of these fuel costs over a longer period to reduce the rate impact.”

The 7.2% increase, if approved, would go over existing rates, including the 16% that went into effect in July.

Duke Energy has extended its interest-free payment plans to eligible customers to six months and added $100,000 to its Share the Light financial assistance program.

The utility teamed up with the Indiana Community Action Energy Assistance Program to distribute the Share the Light funds, and eligible customers could receive up to $300. A list of local assistance program agencies can be found at incap.org/duke-share-the-light.