Group accuses utilities of deceit

November 27, 2012 

Durham advocacy group NC WARN is continuing to press state regulators to undo the merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy, using some of its strongest language to date to denounce the $32 billion deal.

On Tuesday NC WARN told the N.C. Utilities Commission it had discovered an internal document that suggests “criminal misconduct and perjury” on the part of Progress and Duke officials in the weeks leading up to their merger.

NC WARN director Jim Warren said the document demonstrates that the companies were deliberately withholding information from each other, from regulators and from shareholders.

“The shareholders are looking at $2 billion to $3 billion lunch that they may have to eat,” he said.

The Utilities Commission is investigating whether it was deliberately misled by Duke, which fired CEO Bill Johnson the same day the merger closed July 2.

NC WARN is asking the commission to broaden its probe to consider nuclear repair costs and a host of other issues.

The document NC WARN cites is an April 2012 memo from Johnson to the Progress board. In it Johnson wrote that Duke had sent a team to the Crystal River nuclear plant to conduct an independent evaluation of the cost of repairing the damaged Florida facility. That means Duke’s analysis of Crystal River repair costs was ongoing for months, but not revealed publicly.

NC WARN has alleged for more than six months that the merger proceedings should be re-opened because the staggering nuclear repair costs raised doubts about the purported economic rationale of the merger.

Staff writer John Murawski

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