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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina regulators are holding a hearing into whether to allow Duke Energy to raise electricity bills for nearly two million customers.

The state Utilities Commission on Monday hears the pros and cons of a rate hike that would be the third since 2009 for customers of Duke Energy Carolinas, which serve much of western North Carolina.

A proposed settlement with the state's official consumer advocate would allow Duke Energy Carolinas to raise rates by 4.5 percent overall, increasing to 5 percent after two years.

The power company said the rate increase would total $205 million in each of the first two years, increasing to $235 million after the third year.

Duke Energy initially sought about twice that much.

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