NCUC

Utilities Commission levies excessive fine against NC WARN

Doing the dirty work for Duke Energy:

The N.C. Utilities Commission fined the group $60,000 and ordered it to stop the sales immediately and turn the solar project over to the Faith Community Church.

“NC WARN’s electric sales to the public (the Church) is impermissible due to the fact that the Church is located within a service area that has been assigned exclusively to Duke,” the commission says in its order released late Friday afternoon. “NC WARN knowingly entered into a contract to sell electricity in a franchised area and sold electricity without prior permission from the commission subjecting itself to sanctions.”

Make no mistake, this "order" is designed to bring NC WARN down; to destroy this nonprofit that has served as a balancing and oversight agent to keep the NCUC's dealings with Duke Energy honest, or at least not outrageously dishonest. NC WARN has saved us a ton of money by getting rate increase requests by Duke Energy reduced, and it appears they may need your support now more than ever.

Utilities Commission rules stifle public input on new Duke facility

Your layman's point of view is not wanted:

Speakers will have to be sworn in. Although that’s not unheard of at some local-government meetings in which a commission, board or council must vote to open a quasi-judicial proceeding, the implications of it for the Utilities Commission hearing could be different. Testimony under oath is expected to be truthful. Unlike many local boards, testimony to the utility commission would be subject to cross-examination. A person who testified about anything other than their own opinions should be prepared to have their factual claims challenged during cross-examination.

Being placed under oath begs the question of consequences for untruthful testimony. While there’s no precedent for charging someone with offering false testimony at a hearing of this type, in theory someone who swore to tell the truth and then knowingly bore false witness could face prosecution for perjury.

While I understand the need for quasi-judicial proceedings in many cases, the Utilities Commission should not be so insulated. They allow only one voice (Executive Director of the Public Staff) to represent the people, and that representation is already filtered and edited by the time it reaches the ears of the NCUC. They're operating in a safe little bubble, and that is not conducive to public service. And that public deserves the right to speak, without the aura of legal consequences if some of their words can be disputed as "false testimony."

Duke Energy's bullying tactics could backfire on them

No matter how much self-righteous indignation they sputter:

Duke Energy welcomes the discussion over the future of energy. And we welcome competition on a level playing field for all. Groups like NC WARN and their allies are certainly welcome to their own point of view on these issues, but not their own facts.

Any company in any industry would be against allowing newcomers to avoid rules, while the same newcomers support continued regulation of others. What NC WARN is doing is similar to driving a car on the highway and saying the rules of the road apply only to others.

Uh, no. That's not what they're really trying to achieve. They're trying to push you into the light, to force your hand in showing everybody how viciously you will protect your monopoly. And you're doing exactly what they thought you would. And when those "free market"-lovers in the General Assembly finally pass meaningful legislation to free up the grid, all you'll need to do is look in the mirror to find someone to blame.

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