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Business & Economy

Progress Reaches Tentative Deal To Cut Rate Hikes

Progress Energy has reached a tentative deal with the Public Staff on the state Utilities Commission to reduce its request for a rate increase.  The agreement allows a 4.7 percent increase in June, then raises that to 5.7 percent next year.  Progress filed for an 11 percent increase in October.  Public Staff executive director Robert Gruber says it's a fair deal.

"What do they actually need in order to be able to operate reliably and attract investors?  You have to compromise that need with the impact on consumers," Gruber says.

"We do consider the impact on consumers and only very reluctantly give a company any increase."

The Public Staff is a group within the Utilities Commission that officially represents consumers.  Outside advocacy groups like the AARP and NC WARN say the settlement could lead to unfair rate hikes for low-income customers.  The full commission has to approve the settlement before it goes forward.  Commissioners will hear arguments at a public hearing next month.

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