INDIANAPOLIS – Ready for an even higher electric bill?

Duke Energy, which already won approval for a rate hike effect that went into effect in July, is asking for another one.

According to a filing last week with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, Duke is requesting a 7.2% increase beginning in October.

Duke filed the request as part of its quarterly Fuel Adjustment Clause (FAC) tracker, which allows utility companies to request rate adjustments based on fluctuations in fuel costs.

The utility said the increases are needed to make up for “a significant and prolonged rise” in energy prices, including coal and natural gas.

According to Duke’s filing, the FAC adjustment would result in a 7.2% increase in the current electric bill or $11.71 per billing cycle. It represents a nearly 30% increase in bills from this time a year ago.

From the filing:

The factor being proposed in this proceeding represents an increase of $11.71 or 7.2% over what such customer is paying today and an increase of $40.22 or 29.8% over what such customer paid for the same period last year.

In the example provided in Duke’s filing, a customer currently paying $163.53 for utility service at 1,000 kWhs per month would stare down a $175.24 bill.

Duke could also request another rate increase before the end of the year. In a statement, the utility company said the rate increases are not permanent:

Duke Energy is seeing the highest sustained prices for fuel to produce that electricity that we have witnessed in a decade. Global demand and tight fuel supplies as well as labor shortages at coal mines and railroads are affecting the cost of the power we produce as well as what we purchase in the energy markets. These are not permanent rate increases.

Fuel costs rise and fall, and we pass those costs to our customers with no profit, so customers pay what we pay. Our priority is to purchase fuel at the best possible price, through steps such as long-term contracts and using a diversity of suppliers.

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. If you are struggling financially to pay your electric bill, contact us at 800.521.2232. We can discuss payment plans and resources for help.