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NC high court weighs consumer place in power rates

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court is taking a new look at whether state utilities regulators are doing enough to balance consumer protection against the need for the country’s largest electric company for higher rates.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in two lawsuits in which Attorney General Roy Cooper argues regulators did not sufficiently explore the impact on consumers when allowing two rate increases for Duke Energy Carolinas. The Duke Energy subsidiary serves customers in Durham and western North Carolina.

The cases involve a 7.2 percent rate increase originally approved in 2012 and another of about 5 percent approved last year. Consumers are already paying the higher rates.

A Duke lawyer says consumers were considered and courts should stay out of second-guessing the best judgment of the appointed regulatory commission.

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