In addition, ORS, SCEUC and Southern Environmental Law Center, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League have agreed to the appropriate financial incentive for utility efforts to help customers save energy and money.

The proposed settlement must be reviewed by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina in a hearing scheduled to begin on November 30, 2009. If approved, changes to rates are expected to be implemented by February 1, 2010.

If approved, the terms of the agreement outline a general rate increase of $74.1m, or an average of 5.2%. However, additional steps outlined in the proposal reduce the near-term net increase to $24m, creating a bottom-line average impact to customer bills in 2010 of 1.7%.

The proposed agreement also identifies the appropriate compensation to Duke Energy Carolinas for its energy efficiency efforts in South Carolina and proposes a new rider to be added to customer bills. Environmental intervenors join the ORS and SCEUC in supporting the company’s modified save-a-watt model.

Brett Carter, president of Duke Energy Carolinas, said: “Since proposing our original save-a-watt model a few years ago, we’ve received feedback from key stakeholders and modified our approach to improve transparency and set even more aggressive energy-saving targets.”

Additional highlights of the save-a-watt agreement include earnings caps on the company, and third-party verification to measure energy savings. Under the proposal, the ORS will also hire an evaluator to monitor the results calculated by the company’s outside experts.

Duke Energy Carolinas began offering its new portfolio of energy efficiency programmes to customers back in June 2009.