Fourteen confidential agreements included in the merger of Duke Energy and Raleighs Progress Energy should be opened to the public, a Durham advocacy group said Thursday.
The N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network filed a motion asking the N.C. Utilities Commission to rule that the agreements, between the utilities and some large customers, arent trade secrets. WARN has fought to slow down the mergers approval process, which the utilities hope to close by July 1.
The agreements filed in May are between the utilities and customer groups, municipalities and electric cooperatives. Public disclosure, the utilities said at the time, would harm the competitive positions of the utilities or customers.
WARN argues that the agreements could influence the merger or shift costs among customer classes without public scrutiny. It cites the N.C. Public Records Act that allows citizens access to documents unless theyre specifically exempted.
In a separate issue, the anti-nuclear group has also protested Dukes plan to give large industrial and commercial customers a one-year break on most of the 7.2 percent N.C. rate hike granted in January.
N.C. law protects trade secrets including business or technical information that derives independent actual or potential commercial value from not being generally known.
Commission staff say filings marked confidential are normally treated that way unless someone objects. The commission would then hear arguments from both the filing party and the objector.
Merger agreements between the utilities and the commissions Public Staff, which represents consumers, are public record.
Duke Energy said it had no comment as its attorneys review the WARN filing.
The commission will hold a hearing Monday to let WARN cross-examine two officials from the Public Staff and Progress Energy. The commission will be questioned on the impact of the utilities measures to answer federal concerns that the merger will hurt competition for wholesale power.