Appeals court upholds utilities commission merger ruling

The North Carolina Utilities Commission was right to deny an advocacy group a role in its probe of the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger, the state appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The commission investigated the 2012 merger when Duke’s directors abruptly fired Progress chief executive Bill Johnson, who had been expected to lead the combined companies.

NC WARN, a Durham group that opposed the merger, asked to become a party to the investigation. The commission dismissed that request and WARN’s appeal of a settlement that closed the investigation.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed those decisions Tuesday. WARN’s appeal of the commission’s approval of the merger itself is before the state Supreme Court.