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The state Court of Appeals has upheld the Utilities Commission’s approval of the Duke – Progress Energy merger in 2012, per an opinion released this morning.

Writing for the court, Judge Douglas McCullough said:

Where it is evident that the Commission considered the potential costs and risks of the merger and weighed them against the anticipated benefits, and where there is substantial evidence supporting the Commission’s findings and conclusions, we will not second guess the Commission’s determination that the merger is justified by the public convenience and necessity. Thus, we affirm the Commission’s approval of the merger in the merger order.

Policy Watch will have more on the decision later this morning.

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Subpoenas released today by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resouces show that the U.S. Attorney in Raleigh is expanding its criminal investigation of the coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s Dan River plant to include spills at other company plants across the state,  and has identified individuals whose testimony it is requiring before the grand jury on March 18-20.

The subpoena expanding the investigation, dated yesterday, appears below:

By  subpoenas dated Feb. 11 (see below) and directed to a number of individuals, the U.S. Attorney is seeking both testimony before the  grand jury and documents each individual may have, including documents regarding anything of value each may have received from Duke Energy and Progress Energy since 2009.

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Greenpeace investigator Connor Gibson has a post worth checking out at the Greenpeace blog, The Witness . It’s about Duke Energy’s amazingly two-faced stance on North Carolina’s renewable energy law. As Gibson reports:

“Corporate polluters are taking aim this year at states with renewable energy laws, starting with an attack on North Carolina’s clean energy economy by a corporate front group known as ALEC with support from Duke Energy, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries.

North Carolina state Representative Mike Hager says he is confident that he has the votes needed to weaken or undo his state’s clean energy requirements during his second term. Read More

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The closed-door decision by the NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) and the Public Staff to end its investigation into the Duke-Progress merger in exchange for a handful of restrained conditions is another missed opportunity by state regulators to protect NC consumers.

The Commission must vote on the proposal on Monday which includes conditions such as shuffling of staff and board members, concretizing Jim Rogers’ already planned 2013 retirement and throwing a few bones to consumers and low-income customers. It’s mind-boggling to think how little has come from the merger investigation. Read More

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The following was released this morning by the good people at NC WARN:

Internal Document Indicates Duke Energy Hid Damning News on Broken Nuclear Plant before Merger with Progress Energy was Approved
Johnson memo to his board members strongly suggests Duke misled regulators in various states; NC WARN says this bolsters legal case to reopen merger hearings

Durham, NC – An April memo from ousted CEO Bill Johnson appears to confirm long-running concerns by a watchdog group that Duke Energy hid vital information from regulators in several states prior to the July closing of the utility’s controversial takeover of Progress Energy. NC WARN today filed the document with the NC Utilities Commission in support of the group’s case that merger hearings must be reopened to determine if billions of dollars in hidden costs offset the very savings to the public that are required of such a utility merger.

Read the entire release by clicking here.