Progress Energy to charge a few pennies less

Staff writerNovember 12, 2009 

Progress Energy customers will see a slight decrease on their monthly bills beginning Dec. 1, as the electric utility passes on several cost reductions.

The Raleigh-based utility is lowering its cost for fuel and efficiency programs and charging more for solar farms. The net effect for a typical residential customer will be a reduction of 22 cents a month.

Progress in the past year began buying electricity from three industrial-scale solar farms in Cary, Roxboro and near Wilmington. Power companies in the state are required to tap more renewables and offer financial incentives to customers for efficiency upgrades under a 2007 state law.

Progress will increase residential bills to 65 cents a month to pay for solar farms and other renewable projects, under an approval issued this morning by the N.C. Utilities Commission. The current charge is 36 cents a month. The increase will affect 1.1 million residential customers in North Carolina.

But at the same time, Progress is expected to cut monthly bills that relate to the customers' share for energy efficiency rebates. Those rebates are paid to property owners who seal ducts, upgrade air conditioners and install high-efficiency windows.

That monthly charge would drop from 70 cents to 53 cents for every 1,000 kilowatt hours used, the typical monthly household usage. The N.C. Utilities Commission is expected to approve the change this week.

The monthly charges are a recent addition to the electric utility's billing cycle and are, for many customers, the most tangible sign that Progress is increasing its reliance on renewable resources and energy efficiency.

Under the rate increases approved today, 178,660 commercial customers in the state will pay $3.22 a month for renewables, up from $1.82. And 1,815 industrial customers will pay $32.20 a month, up from $18.24.

In separate filings, approved earlier by the commission, Progress is lowering customer bills by 34 cents a month to account for falling fuel costs.

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