Utility company Duke Energy plans to ask North Carolina regulators to increase customer rates by an average of 12.6 percent beginning Jan. 1.

If approved by regulators, the increase would boost rates for the average residential customer by $11 a month, according to the company. Rates for industrial customers would go up 15 percent and rates for other customers would increase by nearly 10 percent.

The increase would generate nearly $500 million a year for Duke.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy Corp. adjusts its fuel costs that customers pay annually, but the last general rate increase in North Carolina was 1991.

Even with the requested increase, Duke said rates in the Carolinas will remain well below national averages.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.