NCSEA filed a brief Monday, November 28 at the NC Utilities Commission underscoring its opposition to the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger in the absence of several important modifications to the final agreement. This is the latest action by NCSEA, which has been involved in the merger docket before the Commission. Specifically, NCSEA requested that if the merger is approved by the Commission, the utilities should:
- Undertake a pilot program to evaluate the benefits of third-party direct sales of renewable power to small-energy consumers and to;
- Enhance the Public Benefits Fund agreed upon in the initial merger settlement by Duke and Progress by authorizing on-bill financing of energy efficiency measures and providing sufficient funding for existing low-income energy efficiency and bill pay assistance programs.
At present, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is evaluating Duke and Progress' plan to mitigate the concentration of wholesale market power in portions of Eastern North Carolina that FERC asserts would be created by the merger. If approved, Duke and Progress would sell an agreed-upon amount of wholesale power into the affected area at a fixed rate of return, a strategy known as "virtual divestiture." The Public Staff has endorsed this approach, and Duke and Progress have moved to dismiss all other proposed remedies for mitigating Duke and Progress' combined wholesale market power in Eastern North Carolina.