By Daniel Jasper, Staff Editor
The proposed merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy would create the nation’s largest utility provider, boasting a total of 7 million customers. The new company, to be named Duke Energy, would also take the title for North Carolina’s biggest political action committee. According to a recent report by Democracy North Carolina (pdf), the two companies combine for a total of $51 million dollars in political donations and lobbying in North Carolina and D.C.
The new company is soliciting the NC Utilities Commission to raise rates, which is meant to recuperate losses for the future construction of power plants. The rate increase is a bit unorthodox, as it would place the financial burden and risk of the proposals for new plants on the shoulders of consumers, rather than investors.
The regulatory review of the merger is currently underway. The financial and political consolidation of the two companies would undoubtedly amount to a great deal of political sway at both the state and federal level. This begs the question of how the proposed merger would affect energy and environmental policies going forward.