The N.C. Utilities Commission wont reconsider an order limiting the scope of a hearing Monday on the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger.
The commission granted the hearing after the N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, an anti-nuclear group in Durham, argued that circumstances have changed since the commission held merger hearings last September.
Among the changes, the anti-nuclear group said, were confidential settlement agreements between the utilities and customer groups. Theres also evidence that Duke and Progress customers might be forced to pay for new power plants, the group said.
The claims came late in an 18-month merger approval process that Duke and Progress hope will conclude next week.
The commission granted a hearing but limited its range. The group will be allowed only to question two officials who filed written testimony on the impact of the utilities merger plan that was approved by federal regulators. The group wont be able to offer new testimony.
The commission ruled Friday that it wouldnt reconsider the limits it had placed on the hearing.
Duke and Progress had urged the commission to deny the groups request. In a separate motion, the utilities also said the commission should keep merger agreements between the utilities and customer groups confidential.
The anti-nuclear group challenged the 15 agreements this week, saying they did not constitute trade secrets that are exempt from open-records law. The agreements could alter the mergers terms or shift costs from one customer group to another, the group claimed.
In response, Duke and Progress assert that the documents do hold trade secrets. The utilities also say the anti-nuclear group, like other formal parties to the merger case, could have asked to see the agreements when they were first filed last November, but didnt.