The N.C. Utilities Commission ordered Tuesday that some provisions of the 20 confidential settlement agreements filed as part of the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger be made public.
Agreements between the utilities and industrial customer groups, electric cooperatives, municipal power agencies and individual towns and cities removed potential opposition to the merger, which the commission approved June 29.
N.C. WARN, a Durham advocacy group, challenged the confidential treatment of the agreements. WARN argued that most of the agreements don’t hold trade secrets that can be sealed from public view.
The Charlotte Observer, Raleigh’s News & Observer and other media outlets also urged the commission to release the documents as public records.
Commission members agreed in part Tuesday. They ordered that 84 of the agreement provisions at issue remain confidential and that 39 must be made public.
Taken as a whole, the commission ruled, the agreements aren’t trade secrets that hold sensitive business information or could economically benefit someone else. But many individual provisions did meet that standard, it said.
The commission also said the trade-secrets standard does not apply to public agencies such as electric membership corporations, ordering them to make their agreements public.