Ad campaign presses Pat McCrory to come clean about Duke holdings – and step away from appointing regulators who will judge the need for billions in new power plants
Statement by Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – NC WARN is placing full-page ads in Raleigh’s News & Observer and other papers urging North Carolinians across the political spectrum to call on new Governor Pat McCrory to recuse himself from appointing regulators who would rule on Duke Energy’s plans to build power plants costing customers tens of billions of dollars. The new governor has a blatant and unprecedented conflict of interest after working at Duke for 28 years, and because he still owns a large – but as yet undisclosed – amount of Duke stock.
During the campaign, perhaps Gov. McCrory didn’t realize his career and personal holdings would clash with his public service – and Duke’s plans to build unneeded, hazardous and costly power plants. But on January 4, NC WARN and AARP called on the Governor to distance himself from appointments to the NC Utilities Commission, which sets Duke’s rates and approves new plants – and that was before we saw his ethics filing that he owns Duke stock worth at least $10,000 (the filing does not require disclosure of the actual amount).
Gov. McCrory has not responded to our request to disclose the amount of his Duke holdings, nor has he explained his thinking or legal rationale regarding the obvious conflict of interest in making appointments to the utilities commission. After spending 28 years at a growing power giant, he’s quite likely a Duke Energy millionaire.
We know of no precedent where a corporate energy executive moves into the governor’s mansion, hangs on to a large block of stock, then appoints his long-time boss’s regulators – especially when that corporation has tens of billions of dollars in rate-hikes on the drawing board.
The ads, titled “Is Duke Energy Devouring North Carolina?” are also circulating online. They feature a drawing by award-winning cartoonist VC Rogers showing a Duke Energy shark devouring North Carolina, while “lifeguard” McCrory watches from shore. The corporation, headquartered in Charlotte, is now the second largest power utility in the world.
The ad cites a new legislative effort that would allow the governor to further stack the utilities commission in Duke’s favor.
We’re calling on the new governor to be transparent. If he continues stonewalling the public, it’s quite possible that the amount of his stock holdings will become public, one way or another.
What’s good for Duke Energy is good for Governor McCrory – so far. But Duke Energy’s business practices and future plans are disastrous for our economy, disastrous for our democracy and disastrous for the fight to avert runaway climate catastrophe.
NC WARN, founded in the late-1980s, is working to avert runaway climate and economic chaos by pressing Duke Energy to join the clean energy revolution – or at least stop impeding it.