As the North Carolina Utilities Commission tries to make sense of the farcical events that surround its approval of the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the largest public electricity company in the nation, the deeper they dig, the dumber Duke looks.
Yesterday the 6-member panel (one seat is unfilled due to political wrangling) heard from former Progress CEO Bill Johnson (pictured). Throughout the 18-month merger process the two companies proclaimed to anyone who cared – including federal regulators, utilities commissions in at least six states, and Wall Street – that Johnson would carry that role over to the combined company, while former Duke CEO James Rogers would elevate to chairman.
Rogers testified before the NCUC on Tuesday, after the directors of the newly combined Duke jettisoned Johnson just hours after the regulatory approval, even though both companies asserted beforehand – ever since the expected deal was announced last year – that he would lead the united company, while Rogers moved up to chairman. Utilities commissioners, former Progress directors who approved the merger, and the public were deceived into believing Johnson would oversee day-to-day operations.
Then Duke’s board immediately pulled a fast one and fired the man they said all along would be the joint entity’s CEO, Bill Johnson, who would have continued from the same role he had with Progress. Instead leading the new combined company will be Duke’s current CEO, James Rogers. Throughout the merger approval process everyone understood he would abdicate that role to Johnson while remaining as company chairman.
The North Carolina fuel cell project in which former Vice President Al Gore has a conflict of interest as a director of Apple, Inc., illustrates how crony socialism and state mandates to utilize so-called “Green” energy converge to benefit wealthy corporatists at the expense of regular citizens.
Yesterday NLPC reported that Apple’s plans to build a costly fuel cell electricity generation facility adjacent to its new data center in Maiden, N.C., was a conflict for Gore, because plans show Apple has enlisted Bloom Energy to build the project.
The deal has been planned for months, and when approved by state and federal regulators, will create the largest investor-owned electric utility in the nation. Combined the companies serve residents and businesses in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
NLPC has piled pixels in reporting the crony capitalism and gaming of government regulations by Duke Energy CEO James Rogers, who has favored a political engagement approach to the conduct of business rather than the delivery of services to consumers at affordable prices. That’s how the electricity business works: when you have monopoly control and are guaranteed a profit by your regulators, then you don’t have to worry about besting your competition to earn your customers.