By Jeff Smith
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Several energy watchdog groups told Eyewitness News a new settlement with Duke Energy will not help customers’ monthly power bills.
Details of the settlement between Progress Energy and Duke Energy were released Thursday afternoon. If approved, it will end a months-long battle over their controversial merger.
When Duke and Progress merged this summer, they became the biggest utility company in the nation, based in Charlotte.
The controversy started when Duke’s board ousted Progress’ CEO hours after the merger was approved and replaced him with Duke CEO Jim Rogers.
The settlement with state regulators means Rogers will retire when his contract is up next year, and a board — made up of members from both companies — will search jointly for a new CEO.
The proposed settlement is also supposed to mean $25 million more in fuel savings for customers. But watchdogs told Eyewitness News customers won’t notice a difference.
“Right now the impact of the merger hurts rate payers more than it helps,” said Beth Henry, a member of NC WARN.
NC WARN is an energy watchdog group that opposes the merger, believing it’s better for customers to have several options for utility service.
This summer Duke also announced $675 million in fuel-related savings, spread out over five years.
“It probably works out to pennies, maybe just one penny, on the average residential electric bill. So the money to rate payers is totally insignificant,” Henry said.