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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s highest court has overturned a substantial rate hike sought by Duke Energy and approved by state utilities regulators.

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state Utilities Commission did not adequately consider the negative impact on consumers by allowing Duke to raise electricity rates for 1.8 million households and businesses by 7.2 percent. The commission voted in January 2012 to allow the rate increase, which would generate an extra $309 million in annual revenue for Duke.

Attorney General Roy Cooper’s office argued the commission failed to balance the interests of both customers and investors in overseeing the Charlotte company, now the nation’s largest electricity provider following its takeover of rival Progress Energy. The court agreed, sending the issue back to the utilities commission for further consideration.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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