By John Murawski
The state’s lead utility regulator suggested Monday that a much-anticipated N.C. Utilities Commission ruling on the proposed merger between Progress Energy and Duke Energy could come any day.
At the conclusion of a brief public hearing in Raleigh, Commission Chairman Edward Finley Jr. said participants in the merger proceedings are welcome to make more filings for the commissioners to consider. But Finley warned that the commission could issue its merger decision so fast that there won’t be time to make more filings.
“There’s no guarantee the order will wait until the filings are received,” Finley said.
Finley’s comments capped a 56-minute hearing held to allow N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network to raise questions about the $26 billion utility deal that would form the nation’s largest electric utility. Finley noted that the Durham group was the only one out of 26 organizations participating in the merger that is still challenging it.
“We hope to rule as expeditiously as we can,” Finley explained after the hearing ended. “We’ve got to vote and we’ve got to look at all the words in the order, and we haven’t gotten there yet.”
Sounding impatient at times, Finley said that N.C. WARN failed to make a case that comprehensive merger hearings should be held. The hearing Monday allowed N.C. WARN to ask limited questions about three filings made since May in a merger that has produced a voluminous paper trail.
The commission hearing room was filled to capacity Monday. N.C. WARN attorney John Runkle cross-examined Progress executive Sasha Weintraub and posed questions to James Hoard, an accounting division head at the Public Staff, the state’s consumer protection agency in utility matters.