NC WARN

The state's utility consumer advocate and other groups are opposing Duke Energy's agreement earlier this month to limit a planned $7.8 billion electric grid modernization program.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission Public Staff, the environmental group NC WARN, and the Carolina Utility Customers Association say the program would result in unacceptably higher rates.

JIM WARREN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday quickly rejected a challenge to regulators who decided a clean-energy advocacy group broke electric-service rules by selling solar power to a church.

The justices heard oral arguments less than four weeks ago in the case involving NC WARN, which installed solar panels on a Greensboro church's roof and sold electricity to the church at rates below what Duke Energy Corp. subsidiaries charged.

Associated Press

North Carolina's highest court is deciding whether a clean-energy advocacy group illegally sold solar power to a church as part of its plan to undercut the monopoly of the state's electric utilities.

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether it's legal for anyone other than a public utility to sell electricity in North Carolina.

Jim Warren, Associated Press

North Carolina's highest court is taking up a case that could force new competition on the state's electricity monopolies.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the Utilities Commission's decision to fine clean-energy advocacy group NC WARN for putting solar panels on a Greensboro church's rooftop and then charging it below-market rates for power.

The commission told NC WARN that it was producing electricity illegally and fined the group $60,000. The group said it was acting privately and appealed to the high court.

David Boraks/WFAE

A week after allowing Duke Energy a rate increase that includes charges for coal ash cleanup for about half its North Carolina consumers, state regulators on Monday began considering raising prices on an additional 2 million customers.

The state Utilities Commission opened a hearing on the company's request to charge an extra $539 million a year to customers of its Duke Energy Carolinas subsidiary in central and western North Carolina. That translates into a 14 percent increase for the typical residential customer's $104 monthly bill, a spokesman for the Charlotte company said.

Updated 7:10 p.m.

A North Carolina environmental group is asking the NC Supreme Court to decide whether it's legal for it to install solar panels on a church rooftop, then sell electricity to the church.  NC WARN is appealing a 2-1 ruling against it last month by the NC Court of Appeals.

WRAL

A divided North Carolina appeals court says a clean-energy advocacy group can't install solar panels on a church roof and charge for the electricity generated.

The state Court of Appeals panel split 2-1 Tuesday, with the majority ruling in favor of Duke Energy's legal monopoly to sell electricity to most of the state. The split means a state Supreme Court appeal is possible.

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

An opponent of the Duke Energy plan to convert its coal-fired plant in Asheville to natural gas says the plan would be a disaster in the fight against climate change.  Dr.

 Updated 4:55 p.m.

Regulators have dismissed an appeal by two environmental groups that wanted to halt a Duke Energy power plant project in Asheville. The N.C. Utilities Commission says NC WARN and The Climate Times failed to post a $98 million bond required for the appeal.

But the battle may not be over. The environmental groups say they'll take the issue to the state Court of Appeals.  

State regulators wrapped up a two-day public hearing in Raleigh Tuesday afternoon on the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. The two-day hearing included testimony from company leaders and a protest by merger opponents.

Executives including CEOs Lynn Good of Duke and Thomas Skains of Piedmont argued the $6.7 billion deal would create a stronger company and speed Duke's shift toward cleaner-burning natural gas.

A public hearing starts Monday in Raleigh on Duke Energy's planned acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas. Approval by the North Carolina Utilities Commission is the deal's final hurdle. 

Duke announced last October it was buying Piedmont for $6.7 billion. That includes $4.9 billion in cash and taking over $1.8 billion in Piedmont debt. Piedmont has two things Duke wants:  

 State regulators have delivered another blow to environmentalists trying to block a new power plant in Asheville.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission says two groups must post a $98 million bond before they can appeal.

That's nearly 10 times the amount regulators originally set for an appeal by environmental groups NC WARN and The Climate Times. The commission says the bond is needed to pay Duke Energy's costs if the project is delayed.

State regulators will hold a hearing June 17 to help determine whether environmentalists should have to pay a multimillion dollar appeal bond before they challenge approval of a Duke Energy power plant in Asheville.