Advocacy group takes aim at Duke-Progress merger

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The six-month-old Duke-Progress merger is facing another legal obstacle, with green energy advocacy group NC WARN announcing yesterday plans to challenge the approval of July's merger in the state's Court of Appeals.

The North Carolina Public Utilities Commission wrapped up its official investigation in November 2012, reaching a settlement with Duke over how it handled the blockbuster merger. Many regulators and consumers were unhappy with the way the merger proceedings unfolded, especially with the abrupt CEO switch that took place just a day after the $32 billion deal closed. 

But NC WARN is unsatisfied, despite the lengthy PUC investigation.

"NC WARN continues to contest the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger to alter or revoke the merger," said NC WARN Executive Director Jim Warren in a statement. "In short, Duke's business plan is a disaster for our economy and its a disaster for our efforts to avert runaway global warming."

In addition, NC WARN alleges that Duke hid several billions of dollars in charges during the merger proceedings, and regulators did not require Duke to explain these discrepancies. Charges include secret deals with customers, and billions of dollars to repair and upgrade existing power plants.

"The commission and regulators have not done their duty to protect the public and ensure that this merger continues any net savings to the public," he said, calling the deal a "net public soaking."

Duke Energy maintains that the merger has been successful and is saving money for its rate payers.

"Duke Energy strongly believes NC WARN's appeal lacks merit. The six-month-old merger continues to make good sense for Duke Energy's customers and the communities it serves," the utility said in a statement.

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