Court blocks Duke's Ohio charges for clean-up

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Supreme Court has temporarily blocked Duke Energy Corp. from charging customers for pollution clean-up at its deactivated manufactured-gas plants.

In a 4-3 ruling Wednesday, the court stayed a regulatory order allowing the company to pass the clean-up 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 message was left with the company seeking comment.

The high court recently ruled that another power company, American Electric Power, collected $368 million in unjustified charges from customers but that those charges didn't have to be refunded.