Duke Energy, consumer groups reach agreement to cut electric bills

Duke Energy’s 800,000 customers in Indiana could see their electric bills fall by an average of 5.6 percent this year under a new proposed settlement with consumer groups.

The utility said Thursday it had reached an agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, the Indiana Industrial Group and Nucor Steel on how to pass along the benefits from recent changes in federal tax law.

Under the agreement, an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours a month would save $7.33 per month. Statewide, the customer savings would total about $142 million a year over the next two years, Duke Energy said.

The settlement agreement still needs to be reviewed by state utility regulators.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts, a major initiative of President Trump and Congressional Republicans, reduced the federal tax rate for most investor-owned utilities from 35 percent to 21 percent. In response, many utilities have been reducing customer rates.

“Most affected Indiana utilities have worked collaboratively with our staff to address the federal tax cuts and make sure their customers share in these savings,” said Bill Fine, Indiana’s Utility Consumer Counselor. “Duke Energy is the latest example.”

Duke Energy said it began reflecting the lower federal tax rate in customer bills several months ago when filing new electric bill riders with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“The federal tax act is an opportunity for us to lower customer bills and help offset future rising costs,” said Melody Birmingham-Byrd, president of Duke Energy Indiana.

The settlement also proposes reducing base rates in September to reflect the lower tax rate.

Duke Energy is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Its Indiana operations are based in Plainfield. The utility's service territory includes most of the state, including every county surrounding Marion County.

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