FERC refuses to rehear Duke Energy market manipulation claims

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In a major relief to Duke Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday denied a North Carolina utility watchdog’s request to reconsider its refusal to investigate whether Duke Energy Corp. manipulated the electricity market by building unnecessary power plants, saying the group failed to show how an investigation would reveal unjust practices.

FERC shot down the petition to reconsider its April finding that North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network Inc., or NC WARN, had not made a viable claim that a regional Duke Energy affiliate manipulated the energy market by building unnecessary power plants instead of buying power from other utility companies, saying the issues the group raised in its rehearing bid lack merit.

“NC WARN has failed to meet its burden under the [Federal Power Act] to demonstrate that further investigation or study of the issues NC WARN raised in its complaint would reveal Duke Energy’s rates to be unjust, unreasonable, or unduly discriminatory,” FERC said in a 10-page order.

“We see no basis to investigate further whether Duke Energy would be required to join [a regional transmission organization], purchase power from neighboring utilities, or otherwise become involved in ‘a regional [power purchase] strategy,’” the order said.

The agency said it had soundly concluded that NC WARN did not meet the three required elements of a market manipulation claim.

“Thus, the commission reasonably found that there existed nothing further to investigate,” FERC said.

Thursday’s ruling ends a case brought by NC WARN in December 2014 asking FERC to investigate allegedly wasteful practices of Duke Energy Carolinas LLC and Duke Energy Progress Inc. and whether Duke Energy manipulated the electricity market through building power plants that led to unjust and unreasonable rates.

The group also asked the commission to fund an independent study to evaluate the potential benefits of Duke Energy entering into a regional transmission organization and requiring the company to purchase power from other utilities instead of constructing its own plants.

An NC WARN spokesman said the group was disappointed FERC decided not to “seize the opportunity to investigate Duke Energy’s failure to plan and share electric power with other utilities in the Southeast.”

Source: Duke Energy

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