Statement by NC WARN DirectorJim Warren:
Creation of the nation’s largest electric utility will require enhanced vigilance and action by public advocates to protect our economy, our environment and our democracy from a giant corporation well-known for its use of political muscle to pursue profits and expansion.
This merger will require increased independence by regulators charged with making sure Duke Energy – as a North Carolina-chartered monopoly corporation – operates in the public interest.
NC WARN is deeply concerned that the NC Utilities Commission approved the Duke-Progress merger today prior to unsealing 17 secret deals that go to the heart of the essential standard of public benefit versus cost.
With so many financial deals being kept secret, it is unclear that the merger has any net benefit for retail customers.
We remain confident that pursuit under the NC Public Records Law will require all those deals to be opened for public scrutiny. Also, this is an extremely important precedent for future cases.
We remain particularly concerned that the merger does virtually nothing for low-income customers, and with Duke’s discriminatory rate-making that shifts costs onto small business and families.
Still, important gains have been made. Good news coverage is helping the public gradually see that backroom dealing and corporate influence over various levels of government have long been central to the Duke-Progress business models.
As NC WARN emphasized directly to CEO Jim Rogers on Wednesday, Duke Energy is in a unique global position to help avert runaway climate change – by moving expeditiously to replace coal with energy-saving programs, cogeneration and rooftop solar and wind power.
We will continue pressing Duke leaders to grasp the urgency of the ongoing climate crisis and to cooperate with the public to optimize our chances of averting a hellish future for all humanity.
Meanwhile, NC WARN and a growing and diverse number of nonprofit allies in several states will increasingly challenge Duke Energy at every juncture over its deeply flawed plans to continually raise rates to build dangerous and unneeded power plants.
We simply will not allow Duke Energy to wreck our economy, our environment and our democracy.