NC WARN urges judges to modify the deal and force regulators to address costs to ratepayers – not just benefits to the world’s largest corporate utility
Durham, NC – The NC Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments tomorrow [1pm, Wed., Nov. 6, NC Court of Appeals, One West Morgan Street, Raleigh] in NC WARN’s challenge to a 2012 corporate merger that created the world’s largest electric utility.
Since the merger’s post-investigation closure last fall after a backroom deal between the Duke CEO and Chairman Ed Finley of the NC Utilities Commission, Duke Energy’s well-publicized nuclear plant fiascos in Florida have supported NC WARN’s concerns that problems in one state create upward pressure on rates and Duke’s guaranteed profit levels in North Carolina. The Commission blocked our inquiries into those failures before approving the merger.
The NC Supreme Court has already reprimanded the Commission – once so far – for not prioritizing the impacts on customers when allowing Duke to raise rates to meet that monopoly-contrived profit level of 10.5 percent. NC Attorney General Cooper has appealed three Duke-Progress rate hikes on those grounds, and the merger controversy goes to the same issue of exorbitant Duke profits and impacts on customers.
NC WARN attorneys John Runkle and Matt Quinn will argue that the Court should force the Commission to reopen hearings and require analysis of the actual impacts the merger has on customers – not just Duke’s purported but unsupported claims that the merger would benefit customers.
Two highly publicized nuclear project failures in Florida were among the billion-dollar-plus mistakes NC WARN urged the Commission to consider. Both of those have created upward pressure for the Duke holding company to maintain market value by bolstering profits in the Carolinas and other monopoly-captive states.
Also, during this year’s rate case, NC WARN caught Duke trying to charge Carolinas customers $165,000 for a 2012 study of the cracked Crystal River plant – after Duke and the Commission repeatedly claimed that NC customers are “insulated” against Duke’s problems in Florida.
We continue to insist that the Commission and Duke avoided facing NC WARN’s concerns by hiding behind a smokescreen drama about who should become corporate CEO. NC WARN insists that Duke’s management and stockholders – not its customers – are legally required to bear the costs of its corporate mistakes and secret deal-making.