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Duke Energy Kentucky asks to boost gas rates by $10.5M to recoup investments

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Duke Energy Kentucky asks to boost gas rates by $10.5M to recoup investments

Duke Energy Kentucky Inc. is seeking to raise its natural gas distribution rates by about $10.5 million to recover infrastructure investments for safety and reliability and return savings related to the federal tax cuts to customers.

The Duke Energy Corp. utility's filing with the Kentucky Public Service Commission is its first request to change its gas rates in nine years, according to an Aug. 31 news release. If the filing is approved, monthly gas bills for residential customers with an average gas usage of 53 ccf per month would increase by 10.2%, or $5.78.

Duke Energy Kentucky said it has spent $200 million on capital projects since its last rate increase request almost a decade ago. The projects include an accelerated service line replacement program launched in 2016 and expected to end in 2019, the Big Bone gas pipeline that went into service in 2017, and a deployment of digital metering technology, scheduled for completion by the end of the year. The request also includes about $5.2 million in annual savings due to the federal tax overhaul, which lowered the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%.

In addition, the utility proposed a weather normalization adjustment that would be applied to customers' bills during the winter heating season, covering November through April. The adjustment would result in lower delivery charges during colder than normal weather conditions, and an additional charge when temperatures are warmer than normal.

The rate review process is expected to run until March or April 2019.

Duke Energy Kentucky serves almost 100,000 customers in Northern Kentucky.