A dozen utilities, others join case as watchdog group seeks investigation into billions wasted by monopoly utilities and lack of regional sharing
Statement by Executive Director Jim Warren:
DURHAM, NC – Duke Energy’s response to NC WARN’s December complaint about a regional over-supply of electricity capacity has inadvertently enhanced our call for an investigation to determine how many billions of dollars are being wasted across the Southeast. Duke grossly distorted NC WARN’s position in several ways but, in doing so, emphasized the lack of publicly available data needed to understand how much money could be saved through regional sharing of electricity.
Late yesterday, NC WARN filed its reply to Duke’s February 26 response to our complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Our original complaint cited federal data showing that Southeast utilities often have more than twice the reserve generation capacity than industry guidelines call for, yet they continue taking advantage of their monopoly control by building unneeded power plants.
In yesterday’s filing, we redoubled our call for FERC to support its own recommendations for regional power sharing by ordering an independent study of the Southeast – instead of just asking Duke and the others to voluntarily share power. FERC has emphasized that regional sharing operations have many benefits for customers including greater reliability and sometimes billions of dollars saved.
Among those seeking a voice in this case are electric utilities such as TVA, electric membership cooperatives, and the regulatory commissions of both Carolinas. In December NC WARN also called on regulators in seven states to support the study of regional cooperation. NC WARN has requested FERC conduct a hearing in Raleigh to determine the best path toward the study.
Throughout its answer to the NC WARN complaint, Duke criticizes us for not providing specific monetary figures on the benefits regional sharing would provide to customers. But much of the data needed to make such a determination is unavailable to NC WARN and the rest of the public, which is the very reason we’re calling for a formal FERC investigation and study.
Some of the best information publicly available is a recent study, partially funded by FERC, which showed that regional power sharing would save Entergy customers $1.4 billion over ten years.
Despite huge amounts of excess generation capacity on hand for decades to come, monopoly utilities in the Southeast keep building more plants and raising rates on captive customers – instead of buying power from each other, when needed, as FERC has urged.
Customers are being hammered because Duke Energy and others are protected monopolies that thwart competition and wield undue influence over state regulators who continue to approve new plants, rate hikes and guaranteed profit margins.
Duke and others should buy power from each other while using more solar energy – which is perfectly suited to handle periods of high demand.