The Commission said it found the projected benefits of the merger outweighed any anticipated costs and risks. According to officials, the merger guarantees at least $650 million in fuel and fuel-related savings to be allocated among utility customers and is expected to produce operating efficiencies to be reflected in future rates.
In addition, the Commission is imposing many conditions to protect consumers. It is requiring the merged companies to commit $16.48 million annually in community and charitable support during the first four years following the merger, as well as $10 million in energy assistance for low-income customers, $5 million for workforce development and $2 million for NC Greenpower, a nonprofit promoting renewable energy. The Commission is also requiring any costs associated with the merger to be paid by the companies and their shareholders -- not by North Carolina utility customers.
The North Carolina Commission will maintain oversight and control over both utilities and their rates, which will remain separate for now.
The combined company will serve about 3 million customers in North Carolina and 4 million more in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Florida and South Carolina.