Statement by NC WARN Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – We appreciate that both the NC Utilities Commission and NC Attorney General Cooper have opened separate investigations into Duke Energy’s takeover of Progress Energy. It is critical that both investigations allow full and open scrutiny of all questions about winners and losers – in particular, who Duke intends to charge for several multi-billion dollar power plant fiascos and for the $44 million parachute former Progress CEO Bill Johnson glides away with.
NC WARN will hold a press briefing at 1:20pm Tuesday outside the Dobbs Building, 430 N. Salisbury Street, Raleigh – to precede the 2pm hearing.
For 18 months NC WARN has been a party to the merger case, and we are seeking to participate in the hearing tomorrow when CEO Rogers takes the witness stand. We have compiled an initial list of questions, some which revisit our June 18 legal motion calling on the Commission to openly examine recent changes in two multi-billion dollar mistakes by Progress Energy – one at the Crystal River nuclear plant and another at the proposed $24 billion Levy nuclear plant.
Last month the Commission declined to allow examination of Crystal River and Levy, but now both projects are being cited as possible causes for Johnson’s ouster. And both have potentially large ramifications for Duke Energy and its customers in North Carolina, as does Duke’s Edwardsport, Indiana coal-plant project with its massive cost overruns and felony corruption scandal.
It’s time for all issues to be put on the table for full and transparent review.
The central questions seem to be: Did Rogers orchestrate a straight-up corporate power play after misleading regulators about his intentions? Or did Duke have valid questions – over Crystal River, Levy or other reasons – about Johnson’s record and ability to lead?
Either way, it’s clear that corporate duplicity abounds. Our society has seen this bad movie far too many times, where giant corporations – such as Enron, Country-Wide, and now Barclays Bank – can’t settle for ordinary fortunes; their secret deal-making to pursue extra profits and expansion harms millions of “little guys.”
NC WARN remains concerned that the merger is set to benefit Duke’s big customers at the expense of families and small business. Corporate mistakes and greed can, in Duke Energy’s case, threaten the economies of several states by causing electricity bills to soar.
We urge Attorney General Cooper and the Utilities Commission to ensure a tight leash and lots of sunshine on North Carolina-chartered Duke Energy – beginning with these investigations.