By Emery Dalesio
RALEIGH, N.C. — Duke Energy formalized deals Monday that ended separate investigations by North Carolina regulators and the attorney general into whether the utility misled officials before a merger that made it the country’s largest electric company.
The deals seek to balance greater oversight of the company with flexibility for its executives.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission voted unanimously to approve a settlement announced last week and negotiated by its staff and Duke Energy lawyers. The deal defines CEO Jim Rogers’ retirement at the end of 2013; sets the coming and going of several other executives and board members; and requires the company acknowledge it has “fallen short of the commission’s understanding of Duke’s obligations” as a regulated utility.
Green-energy advocate and frequent critic Jim Warren called the settlement a sell-out of consumers.
“I think the regulators have thrown the public under the bus,” Warren said Monday. “It looks more and more that Duke Energy runs the state of North Carolina.”
Not so, utilities commission attorneys argued.
They say the settlement is in the public interest because it affirms the commission maintains control over the legal monopolies it regulates and requires Duke shareholders to pay for the investigation and severance packages for departing executives.