Ohio utility agreement expected to lower rates

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio's utility regulators expect an agreement with Duke Energy Ohio will lower rates for most customers as soon as next year.

The agreement approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Tuesday states that Duke will no longer generate electricity by 2015. The company will only deliver it to customers while third-party firms would bid on who gets to generate the power.

The bidding process is expected to result in rate decreases.

The settlement was hailed by consumer advocates and a rival energy producer as more competitive.

Under the agreement, Duke would also have to set aside $1 million per year for the next three years to help low-income customers weatherize their homes, and another $350,000 per year to help them pay their bills.

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