Duke Energy Corp. has filed a lawsuit against the city of Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., arguing that a city ordinance requiring the company to pay to relocate utility lines for a streetcar project is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit seeks to shift the estimated US$15 million cost back to the city. However, Duke has warned that the cost may be shifted to Duke customers if the city does not pay.

Duke and the city were unable to settle the matter between them and have agreed to allow the courts to decide who should be responsible for the cost of moving utility lines to make room for streetcar stations and tracks.

The suit, which was expected, states that Duke should not have to pay to relocate utility lines that wouldn't have to be moved if there were no planned streetcars. The city argues that it should not have to pay Duke for moving utility lines as part of a public improvement project.

The utility argues that the city cannot give its own streetcar preferential treatment and cannot force other utilities operating in the street to relocate at their own cost to make way for the streetcar.

To avoid delaying the project while awaiting the court ruling, the city has agreed to allocate the estimated $15 million needed for the relocation work and Duke has agreed to begin the work. City officials hope the project, estimated to cost $110 million, can open in 2016.

The 3.6-mile (5.8-km) streetcar line will link popular spots throughout the city's downtown and riverfront areas with the trendy Over-the-Rhine district.

For more information, visit www.duke-energy.com or www.cincinnati-oh.gov.