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    North Carolina power company Blue Ridge Electric recently announced it plans to raise electricity rates by 2.5 percent, starting in October, as it deals with higher wholesale power prices, the Watauga Democrat reports.

    According to the media outlet, the electric co-op said its average customer, which uses 930 kilowatt-hours per month, will see an increase of about $2.70 on their electricity bills. The hike came as the company had to pay more for wholesale power from Duke Energy, which it then distributes to 74,000 customers in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties.

    "The wholesale power makes up such a large percent of the budget … 60 percent of our budget," said Renee Whitener, director of public relations at Blue Ridge Electric. "We’ve been able to mitigate that and hold it to 2.5 percent. We’re excited because we don’t have to pass along an 8 percent increase."

    Duke Energy recently announced it expects wholesale power rates to rise by as much as 8 percent by the end of 2012.

    Energy deregulation laws, which have been passed in several states around the country, have helped keep electricity rates low by fostering a competitive culture among retail energy providers, who work to keep rates down to attract new customers.