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Ohio court blocks Duke Energy charges for cleanup

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COLUMBUS, O.H. -

The Ohio Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Duke Energy Corp. from charging customers for pollution cleanup at its deactivated manufactured-gas plants.

In a 4-3 ruling Wednesday, the court stayed a regulatory order allowing the company to pass the cleanup costs on to its 420,000 natural gas customers. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio decision meant Duke could charge each residential customer about $100, on average, over a five-year period.

The stay was jointly requested by the Office of Consumers' Counsel, Ohio Manufacturers' Association, the Kroger Co. and Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy.

A Duke spokesman says the ruling was procedural and didn't address the substance of the case.

Justices recently ruled American Electric Power collected $368 million in unjustified charges from customers but that those charges need not be refunded.

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