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NC hearings begin for Duke Energy's 5 percent hike

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Utilities regulators are holding hearings across central and western North Carolina to let consumers share their thoughts about plans by Duke Energy Corp. to raise electricity rates by $235 million a year.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission is in Winston-Salem on Wednesday for a public hearing on the utility's request to collect an extra $205 million in the first two years, and $235 million a year after that. That's less than half what the company originally requested regulators to approve.

Duke Energy Carolinas struck a deal with North Carolina's official consumer advocate that would let it raise rates by about 5 percent in its service area.

More hearings will be followed by a utilities commission hearing on July 8 on whether to accept the settlement.