The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff in Columbia is auditing Duke Energy’s books ad records to assess the fairness of the utility’s request to raise its South Carolina rates. Duke Energy Carolinas filed day with the South Carolina Public Service Commission a request to raise electric rates by about $220 million—an overall increase of 15.1%. However, the average rate increase applying to Duke’s residential customers would exceed 16%. Dukes Scott, director of the Office of Regulatory Staff, said besides the report his office will make to the PSC, Duke residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers in the state are welcome to attend and speak at any of a series of public hearings. Those hearings take place next month in Anderson and Greenville, among other places. Duke has said more than half of the request is driven by capital investments in the electric systems. One investment is at Oconee Nuclear Station, where $141 million is being spent for new safety and security measures to protect the plant from extreme conditions or a natural disaster.