Duke Energy customers could see another rate decrease coming for the second time this year.
Duke Energy, which passed along a 5.5 percent decrease in electric rates in January, recently filed for a nearly 16 percent decrease with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission that would take effect in April if approved by state utility regulators. The company filed the two rate decreases in part to lower fuel price forecasts, Duke Energy spokeswoman McKenzie Barbknecht said.
Duke Energy’s request to drop its rates follow several hikes that were approved in 2022 for Indiana customers.
Duke Energy filed its latest case Jan. 31 as part of its quarterly Fuel Adjustment Clause, or FAC, tracker, and said it intends to decrease its current residential customer electric rates by 15.9 percent. If that decrease is approved, that would reflect an estimated $26 per month drop for an average residential customer, according to Duke Energy.
It would also result in a 12.9 percent drop for commercial rate customers, while industrial customers would see a decrease of 18.6 percent according to the filing by Duke Energy.
Barbknecht said customer electric bills were higher in 2022 primarily because of soaring fuel costs to produce power. In addition, she noted that global demand and tight fuel supplies, as well as labor shortages at coal mines and railroads, affected the cost of power Duke Energy produced and what it purchased in the energy markets.
“While energy markets remain volatile, we’re starting to see costs stabilize, and we’re glad to pass those savings along to customers,” Barbknecht said.
Barbknecht said four times a year, Indiana utilities rates are adjusted to reflect changing fuel and purchased power costs. Those changes, she said, must be reviewed and approved by state utility regulators.
“The rate adjustments are not permanent; fuel costs rise and fall, and we pass those costs to our customers with no profit, so customers pay what we pay,” she said. “Our priority is to purchase fuel at the best possible price, through steps such as long-term contracts and using a diversity of suppliers.”
IURC regulators are scheduled to review the matter during an evidentiary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. March 17.