Today NC WARN filed a response to the electric utilities and the Utilities Commission’s Public Staff in our pending request to end the longstanding practice of backroom deal-making by the regulators and regulated.
In July, NC WARN filed a petition that seeks to end the longstanding pattern of Duke Energy and the regulators deciding billion-dollar cases behind closed doors. Specifically, we’re calling for an open discussion – with all interested parties – on a rules change that would create a fair and transparent process for settling those cases.
The utilities argue that NC WARN’s request for new rules undermines the Commission’s authority to encourage settlements between parties in its decision making process.
Actually, NC WARN’s proposal isn’t intended to eliminate the Commission’s use of settlements; they are intended to improve the settlement process. NC WARN is seeking to clarify the settlement process to include all parties, and to require resolution through “open, honest and equitable negotiation” as North Carolina courts have encouraged.
In July, NC WARN detailed how the backroom deal-making game works to consistently undermined fair process.
That type of backroom deal happened again – for the fifth straight time in a Duke case – in the recent $6 billion merger between Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. The commission’s “public staff” settled secretly with the utility before receiving input from either the public or formal parties to the case.