NC WARN will fight today’s backroom deal in court
Statement by Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – Today’s announced settlement between Duke Energy and state regulators is a sell-out of the public that was conducted behind closed doors. As signaled earlier, NC WARN will fight the merger in court – with a very strong legal case – and we’re counting on Attorney General Roy Cooper to also stand up for the public. The utilities regulators sure aren’t protecting the public interest.
There’s very little in this deal for the public. There’s no indication the Utilities Commission and its Public Staff even looked at various billion-dollar charges to customers that we believe Duke hid from review during the merger process.
It’s especially curious that the deal was announced just days after NC WARN exposed a smoking gun document that appears to prove our long-running charges that Duke officials hid the multi-billion dollar Crystal River nuclear fiasco from regulators, the public and shareholders until just a few weeks after the merger closed. That is only one of several massive charges Duke apparently plans to pass along to ratepayers in various states – and which dwarf the purported savings to the public that the merger is legally required to yield.
It’s particularly troubling that this deal-making was orchestrated behind closed doors. Recall that the Commission created a special docket for the merger investigation – then disallowed NC WARN from intervening in it, even though we have been a party in the original merger docket since it was first announced nearly two years ago.
We will demand to see the Commission’s full investigation report, and we call on the news media to demand it too. The people of North Carolina paid for it, as we pay for the salaries of every state regulator who went along with this deal that represents a huge gift to Duke Energy – the second largest electric utility in the world and one which wields an embarrassing level of influence over various levels of our state government.
Don’t buy the spin that the deal somehow penalizes CEO Rogers – he’ll retire in 13 months as he had planned.
We’ll have more to say at Monday’s Commission conference with its staff at 10am.