Consumers, charity hoping energy rate increase won’t stand

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper challenged Duke Energy's 7.2 percent rate increase Tuesday in front of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The rate increase went into effect in February.

Duke Energy's customers and the Salvation Army, which helps distribute low income energy assistance funds, are watching closely to see how the court rules.

Major Jim Rickard with the High Point Salvation Army said the increase, which means an extra $7-$20 per month for families, makes life tougher for the people his organization helps.

"That can be a hardship for them. That translates for us we're going to see more folks coming through the front doors of the Salvation Army and other agencies needing assistance," Rickard said.

Rickard said this also means the Salvation Army will have less money to go around to help the same amount of people or will be able to help fewer people at the same level of assistance.

"You have to look at the monies that you have and you have to make a decision at a certain point in time is this small amount of money that I can help this family, is this really going to help that family at all?" Rickard said. "You have to make a judgment call. That's something we have to pray about and we look at those things very seriously."

The North Carolina Supreme Court may not return its decision for up to six months.

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