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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina regulators are again approving a 7 percent rate increase for Duke Energy Carolinas customers.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported the state Utilities Commission on Wednesday again approved the increase first allowed in January 2012. The commission said it properly balanced the interests of investors and the Charlotte company’s nearly 2 million western North Carolina customers. The increase has meant another $7 a month on average.

The state Supreme Court ordered the commission to review the increase after a challenge by Attorney General Roy Cooper. Cooper said Thursday he’ll appeal the commission’s new decision to the high court.

Cooper also is challenging the company’s 4.5 percent rate hike approved in September and a 7.5 percent rate hike approved for eastern North Carolina customers in May.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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