The North Carolina Utilities Commission has hired Anton R. Valukas and the law firm of Jenner & Block as outside counsel to assist in its investigation of the Duke Energy and Progress Energy merger. Valukas is a litigator and the Chairman of Jenner & Block, a national firm which has offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles.
The Commission approved the merger on June 29, 2012. But the Commission has been investigating whether it was misled after news broke that Bill Johnson, the former head of Progress Energy, was removed from the top spot and replaced by James E. Rogers, the Duke chief executive.
Johnson, Rogers and two Duke directors — Ann Maynard Gray and Michael Browning — and two former Progress directors, E. Marie McKee and James Hyler Jr. — were asked to testify before the Commission in July. Following the hearings, the Commission said it would continue to look into the matter.
The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) intervened in the merger proceedings and requested that Duke Energy and Progress Energy be combined only on the condition that the utilities take certain mitigation measures. One of those measures was for the combined utility to offer on-bill financing as a way to make energy efficiency measures accessible and affordable to residential customers who may not be able secure a loan to pay for efficiency improvements.
Earlier this week, NCSEA entered into an agreement with Duke Energy and Progress Energy to try to design an on-bill financing program by year’s end that will work for the utilities, their customers and renewable energy and energy efficiency developers.