By Julie Rose
Governor Pat McCrory has been busy in recent weeks filling his cabinet and top staff positions. And in at least three cases he’s appointed former colleagues from his 28 years working at Duke Energy. That’s led some to worry McCrory will follow the same pattern when he turns his attention to four impending vacancies at the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which is Duke Energy’s primary regulator in the state. WFAE’s Julie Rose takes a look now at this regulatory body McCrory has the opportunity to radically reshape.
It’s one thing to make a former Duke executive your top economic development aide or secretary of commerce – as Governor McCrory has done – but the seven members of the North Carolina Utilities Commission decide how much Duke Energy and other utilities can increase rates.
Such requests are increasingly common – and sizeable – as utilities replace aging power plants. Would the governor really consider appointing a Duke executive to that commission? His spokesman Chris Walker says, “Yes.”
“I don’t think he wants to limit any type of individual based on any type of pre-conceived notion,” says Walker. “(Governor McCrory) wants to make sure we have the best possible people in all these positions to the best interests of North Carolina.”
Walker says the governor wants a utilities commission that operates “efficiently and effectively,” and any fear that he’ll stack things in Duke’s favor is “unfounded.”
Even so, the AARP and the watchdog group NC WARN say McCrory’s Duke career is a conflict of interest and they want him to recuse himself from the appointments.