State regulators want a thorough explanation why private settlements made by Duke Energy and Progress Energy with large power customer should be considered trade secrets and kept from public view.
The N.C. Regulatory Commission said this afternoon it wants the two electric utilities, along with those who entered the confidential settlements, to justify by Friday their rationale for keeping the settlements sealed.
Raleigh-based Progress and Charlotte-based Duke reached about 15 private deals with rural electric cooperatives, municipal power agencies and large industrial power users last year. The deals protect the co-ops, munis and industrials from paying any costs related to the Progress-Duke merger, which was completed July 2.
N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network, a Durham group that opposes the merger, petitioned the N.C. Utilities Commission to unseal the settlements, saying the private deals could be detrimental to the public. N.C. WARN was joined by a coalition of media organizations, including The News & Observer, that contend the contents of the private deals should be disclosed.
The parties to the settlements have argued their settlements contain trade secrets, but they have not provided specifics or details. The utilities commission wants "the settling parties to file statements designating the specific provisions of their settlement agreements that they contend are exempt from public disclosure."