Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Duke Energy strikes again!

(And, no, this is not about the tragic explosion at the Duke power station in Indiana.)

Little did we know when we issued our white paper last week on Duke Energy http://www.cleanairwatch.org/Documents%20&%20Reports/DukeDoubleSpeak.pdf
that this big power company was up to some related tricks – attempting to spin off its fossil fuel plants in Ohio.

This is a bid to enrich company shareholders at the expense of Ohio customers. It belies the frequent claims of company CEO Jim Rogers that he is concerned about how new global warming legislation could affect the company’s customers. What he’s really concerned about is the company’s bottom line.

As reported below, Duke Energy of Ohio is challenging a new state energy law and has filed a request with FERC to move ownership of its power plants to unregulated companies owned by the North Carolina-based parent company.

At the same time, Duke continues to press for Congress to give away free carbon permits – something that would give this company a windfall. And, amazingly, Duke is also reported to be part of a coal cabal seeking to sideline the Lieberman-Warner climate bill and replace it with an alternative plan based on giving away even more federal money to coal-based operations!

All of these antics have one common thread: to boost the value of Duke’s stock. Concerns about customers or the environment seem ever more like a mirage.

Ohio Regulator Says Duke Filing 'Suspect'

29 April 2008Power Market Today

Duke Energy Ohio Inc. has challenged a new state energy and utility law and filed a request with FERC to move ownership of its power plants to unregulated companies owned by parent company Duke Energy Corp., which is headquartered in North Carolina.

Duke Energy Ohio filed the request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last week after the Ohio Senate approved an energy bill endorsed by Gov. Ted Strickland (see Power Market Today, April 24; Oct. 12, 2007). The new law specifically prohibits utility transfers of ownership unless the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) agrees to the transfer.

If Duke Energy Ohio's request were approved by FERC, the ownership transfer would allow Duke to base its retail rates on wholesale markets. Although the timing was questioned by consumer groups, a Duke spokesman said the company still planned to file a long-term rate plan with PUCO.

PUCO's chairman questioned Duke's timing.

"The motive behind the timing of Duke's announcement is, at best, suspect," said PUCO Chair Alan R. Schriber. "Nevertheless, we believe that it is important to intervene at the FERC on behalf of the electric ratepayers of Ohio and to ensure that Duke's filing is not an attempt to skirt our recently passed legislation, Substitute Senate Bill [SB] 221."

PUCO's order on remand, which affirmed Duke's rate stabilization plan, prohibits the company from divesting its generating assets through the end of 2008, Schriber noted. In passing SB 221, the Ohio General Assembly extended this prohibition into 2009 and beyond. The bill specifically states that no electric distribution utility can sell or transfer generating assets without obtaining prior PUCO approval.



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