Duke Energy Ohio announced on June 7 that it had filed a notice with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), asking for an increase in electricity distribution rates, which it said would grow to $86 million.

If the new rates are approved, they would likely take effect in early 2013, and will affect all Duke Energy customers in its service area.

"Although the distribution component of customer bills is going up, customers continue to benefit from lower generation prices for electricity," said Julie Janson, president of Duke Energy Ohio. "In fact, [electricity rates] paid by Duke Energy Ohio customers are among the lowest in the state."

Although the distribution rate would increase, electricity generation rates could conceivably go down, as Ohio has nurtured a competitive electricity market since introducing new energy deregulation laws. For example, even with the increase, a typical customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every month will pay about $116 a month, or 5.3 percent lower than in June of last year.

Many retail electricity providers throughout the state are developing new programs to attract new customers, who now have the ability to shop for and compare electricity rates