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Duquesne Light asks PUC for rate hike; residential bills would increase 10%

| Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Duquesne Light wants to raise prices across the board, including a 10 percent increase for its average residential customer, the company announced on Friday.

Pennsylvania's Office of Consumer Advocate is likely to file a complaint, triggering a detailed review of the request, said Tanya J. McCloskey, acting consumer advocate. The electricity distribution company is asking for a 17 percent increase in what it charges all of its 584,000 customers for operating the electric grid in most of Allegheny and Beaver counties, she added.

“It is a significant increase,” she said. “We are going to take a good look at this case.”

The company on Friday filed a base-rate increase request with the Public Utility Commission. It wants to bring in an extra $76.3 million, an 11.3 percent increase to its annual revenue, spokesman Joey Vallarian said in a statement.

It plans to upgrade its grid, its customer information system, its vegetation management and Internet security, Vallarian said. Companies often get the best service reviews when they actively communicate with their customers, especially during outages, industry surveys have shown. Duquesne Light hasn't updated its system since the 1990s and wants to offer customers better account access online, Vallarian said.

The average residential customer who doesn't have electric heat will pay about $8 more a month, with a bill of $86, according to the company's data. It will increase the average commercial customer's bill to about $900 a month, up $47. The average large industrial customer will pay $16,680 a month, up $500.

Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or tpuko@tribweb.com.

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