- The Progressive Pulse - http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org -

An Opportunity in the Duke-Progress Merger

A wrench was thrown into the Duke and Progress Energy merger on Friday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which must approve the companies joining together before it can be finalized.  The federal agency wants to hear from the utilities about how they will address “already excessive levels of market concentration.”

[1]This wrench is a huge opportunity for consumers, the renewable energy business and its advocates.  Those concerned about the merger should take full advantage of the uncertain moment and press for changes that will not only look after consumers but also advance energy efficiency and renewable energy to do our part to combat global warming.

Concern over creating the largest utility in the nation has come from diverse constituencies such as NCWARN [2], the NC Justice Center [3] and the City of New Bern [4]. All have raised serious questions about the impact of the merger on ratepayers, especially in eastern counties where rates are significantly higher than the rest of the state. FERC agreed and the utilities have 60 days to respond.

There are a number of options that could address the market concentration concerns, but which options are the best for consumers and will rapidly advance efficiency and renewables?

Consumer, environmental and public health advocates should push for Duke to join an RTO – that appears to be the best chance to keep rates fair and to utilize efficiency measures and usher in more renewable energy.