“Attempt to bully” groups away from an appeal further undermines transparency in an already bizarre case
Duke Energy is asking regulators to require a $50 million bond from NC WARN and The Climate Times if the two nonprofits appeal last month’s approval of a new gas-fired power plant in Asheville. The groups argue that the NC Utilities Commission rubber-stamped the project without considering expert witnesses who argue that the plant is not needed and would be disastrous for the climate crisis and risky for electricity customers.
Today we filed a reply to Duke’s request, reiterating our position that only a nominal bond of $250 should be set by the Commission as the case goes to the NC Court of Appeals.
Pro-utility law in North Carolina allows Duke Energy to request a bond – money set aside by NC WARN and Climate Times that might later cover any damages from construction delays caused by an appeal – with the amount set by the very Commission whose approval is being appealed.
As attorney Matt Quinn wrote in our reply motion, “Duke’s response is an attempt to bully NC WARN and The Climate Times away from an appeal. … to scare off potential appellants, Duke articulated extravagant yet evidence-free guesses at potential damages from a delay that will not even happen.”
We are not even asking for an injunction from the court to delay construction during the appeal.
Duke Energy’s uncertainty that its case for the plant will hold up in court is a risk that should fall on the corporation and its shareholders – not ratepayers and not critics seeking a thorough, transparent review of the $1.1 billion project.
Duke is angling to make an appeals court review impossible by seeking an extraordinarily high bond that it knows no critic can provide. After the fast-track approval process of the Asheville plant, eliminating the chance for appellate review would further frustrate any sense of democratic public process in this unprecedented and bizarre case.