Greensboro, NC -- Just as you started to adjust the family budget to cover a more expensive energy bill from last year's rate increase, Duke Energy wants to raise rates again.
Duke Energy has told North Carolina utility regulators that it will ask for another rate increase soon.
In 2011, Duke Energy asked for a record 20-percent increase.
They lowered that request, and in January of 2012, the Public Utilities Commission approved a 7.2-percent increase.
Officials with Duke Energy can't say how much of an increase the company will ask for, but they did tell News 2 why they're asking again.
For starters, three new plants that started producing energy at the end of 2012, represent a $3.5 billion investment for Duke Energy. Customers have to foot the bill.
"The new generation just represents one portion of what we'll be trying to recover in this rate case. There will be some other things associated with ongoing maintenance costs, and even some other investments that we've made," said Davis Montgomery, Duke Energy spokesman.
Montgomery said they have to keep up with emission standards and the demand for more electricity, which means, upgrading facilities and equipment.
But that doesn't soften the blow for a lot of customers.
"So what do you say to the families who, of course, have to have electricity, but they're struggling right now, they're unemployed or they're just trying to make ends meet?" asked News 2's Lauren Melvin.
"Well, naturally, we're always sympathetic to what our customers are going through and we do our very best to hold down our rates and to save every dollar that we can," said Montgomery. "It's not much different from all the other businesses that are out there and also have to go through this. None of us like to do it. It's just a necessary part and sometimes, we just get to a point, where we just can't avoid it any longer."
The decision is ultimately up to the Public Utilities Commission. However, last year, Attorney General Roy Cooper challenged the rate increase.
On Tuesday, the Attorney General's spokesperson told News 2, "The supreme court has not yet ruled in this case. The Attorney General believes that consumers have got to be taken into consideration before utility companies are allowed to raise rates to earn double digit profit margins."
We've asked the Attorney General's office if they'll also challenge the latest proposal. We haven't heard back from them yet on that, but we'll let you know as soon as we do.
WFMY News 2