Duke Energy customers could see a couple of more dollars tacked onto their bills, the result of increases in rates for two of the utility's voluntary services.
Customers who use the utility's electrical protection plans, HomeWire and Surge Protection services, now have to pay an additional $1.04 more a month for each of those services.
"Duke Energy customers were notified of these changes several weeks in advance of the new pricing being implemented," said Sterling Ivey, a Duke spokesman. "For customers who signed up for the HomeWire and Surge Protection programs within the past year, the price change will only take effect upon completing one year of enrollment."
The increases in the cost of the two programs come as Duke seeks to raise what the average customer pays per month by $8.24 to $124.30 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage.
With the increase in service fees, the HomeWire will add $4.99 to a customer's bill each month and Surge Protection will add an additional $6.99. Duke says neither program has increased in price in more than a decade.
HomeWire provides coverage of up to $700 for some electrical wiring troubles homeowners might face, an increase from $500 of coverage. Coverage includes 120/240 volt wiring, switches, outlets, ground fault circuit indicator (GFCI) receptacles, breakers, fuses, fuse/breaker panels, the meter housing that's attached to the home and the components inside it.
Surge Protection works at your meter to block most surges before they reach your home's interior wiring. The service provides protection for refrigerators, dishwashers, HVAC systems and other appliances.
If the device fails as the result of a surge, customers get reimbursed for the costs to repair or Duke replaces the damaged appliance at fair market value.
Rod Fischer, executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, said homeowners would benefit from some type of surge protection, whether bought on their own or through the utility company.
He questioned how much the average customer would need the coverage for wiring.
"I've never had any of those things fail," Fischer said. "If you have copper wire, you shouldn't have a problem."
Ivan Penn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2332.