Duke Merger’s Once-secret Deals with Big Users Set to Cost Other Customers $350 Million – News Release from NC WARN
- September 11th, 2012
This would slash purported public savings, thus it bolsters the call for commission to reopen hearings and “do the math”
Statement by Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – No wonder Duke Energy fought NC WARN so vigorously to keep its deals secret – the ones that bought large customers’ support for the merger with Progress Energy. Our initial analysis indicates that just two of the 17 now-exposed deals would cost small business, local government and residential customers over $350 million by 2019 – which is more than half the total public savings Duke claimed the merger would provide during that period.
It appears that among the NC Utilities Commission and its Public Staff – both of which supported the settlements and had access to their details months ago – no one did the math to check how much those secret deals would cost the public.
NC WARN filed a motion with the Commission yesterday arguing that this new information supports our earlier case for reopening evidentiary hearings on the merger. Additional provisions of the exposed deals could shift billions in costs from large to smaller customers for years to come, but they can’t be measured based on available information.
One of those provisions promises big energy users that Duke-Progress will allocate future costs based on the discredited method that measures usage during only the single hottest hour of the year. In May the Commission opened a special docket on that “summer peak” method after NC WARN reported that Duke uses it to rig rates heavily against small businesses and families.
SEPARATELY in the merger case, a Commission ruling is pending on NC WARN’s motion to reopen hearings based on three additional factors that offset or exceed the public savings required of the merger:
. The $2.2 billion in planned nuclear plant upgrades Duke withheld from merger proceedings.
. Repairs to the broken Crystal River plant’s containment building. It appears the Duke board knew, prior to merger approval, that its repair could cost billions more than Progress’s Bill Johnson had claimed during the merger proceedings.
. Reports that Duke plans to invest billions in the troubled Summer nuclear construction project in South Carolina, but did not reveal its full plans in the merger proceeding.
All this information must finally be reviewed carefully during evidentiary hearings – so the public can see how the math really works out.