Clean energy advocates say merger is a choice forward or backward
The proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy to create the nation’s largest electric utility is an opportunity to shape our region’s energy future, according to testimony filed yesterday evening with the N.C. Utilities Commission by clean energy advocates. In the testimony, an expert in utility mergers and acquisitions outlines concerns about the proposal’s impacts on customers and the environment, and makes recommendations to the commission addressing those concerns. The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the testimony on behalf of Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
“The new Duke Energy faces a choice: the company can choose to be a leader in clean, renewable energy and efficiency, or rely on old technology and polluting fossil fuels,” said Gudrun Thompson, an attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents the groups. “We hope the new energy company will choose to move forward on clean energy to create jobs and save customers money while protecting the environment.”
The independent analysis commissioned by the groups found that if the merger is approved as proposed by the power companies, the merger would result in increased pollution from coal-fired power plants, and a renewable energy market dominated by a single utility company. Such market domination by a single company would restrict access to the market by other clean energy innovators and service providers.
The groups point out that if the right conditions are in place to protect North Carolina citizens and the environment, the merger could instead spur innovation in clean, renewable energy sources; save customers money through increased energy efficiency; and create jobs through smart investments in efficiency and renewable energy like solar and wind power.