Approval of merger an opportunity for the new Duke to lead on clean energy
The North Carolina Utilities Commission today issued an order that approves the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, creating the nation’s largest electric utility. Its two subsidiaries, Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Carolinas, will continue to operate in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, intervened in the commission proceeding to raise concerns about the proposal’s impacts on customers and the environment. The clean energy groups presented testimony from an expert in utility mergers and acquisitions who found that the merger could result in increased pollution from coal-fired power plants, and a renewable energy market dominated by a single utility company.
The groups urged the commission to approve the merger only subject to conditions to protect North Carolina citizens and the environment, including shareholder contributions to renewable energy development. The commission’s order requires the company to contribute $2 million to NC Greenpower, a nonprofit that funds renewable energy development in the state.
A joint statement from the groups follow.
“While we’re glad that the commission supported NC Greenpower, we think the new Duke could do more to spur innovation and create North Carolina jobs through smart, local investments in clean, renewable energy like solar and wind power to offset the job losses from this merger.”
Additional comments from EDF and Sierra Club follow.
”This merger is an important tipping point for Duke Energy. The company should use its newfound size and scale to accelerate investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, rather than stay anchored to the past,” said Greg Andeck, utility initiative manager for Environmental Defense Fund. “Duke can be profitable and protect the environment at the same time.”
“With greater power comes greater responsibility,” said Kelly Martin, campaign representative with Sierra Club. “We regret that in approving the merger, the Commission missed the opportunity to ensure that the new utility will be cleaner, not just larger. We hope that this new company, which will now be the largest in the country, will be a national leader in clean energy investments that will grow the economy and protect public health.”
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