Local News

Media seek records of Duke, Progress power deals

Posted July 12, 2012 2:41 p.m. EDT

— Several media companies, including Capitol Broadcasting Co., the parent company of WRAL, have filed a public records request to obtain information about deals that Duke Energy Corp. and Progress Energy Inc. cut with major customers before their merger.

Duke and Progress have argued to the North Carolina Utilities Commission that the information constitutes a trade secret, but the media companies called that stance "self-serving," noting that the deals aren't internal to one company and therefore cannot be a secret.

"Their terms are known to the parties who negotiated and executed them and to the commission; they are simply not known to the public," attorneys for the media companies stated in a letter Thursday to Commission Chairman Ed Finley.

"Moreover, their economic value is dependent not on their confidentiality, but on the validity of the parties' promises and commitments to each other," the attorneys wrote. "Nothing filed by any parties to the settlement agreements at issue suggests that any of them will be invalidated or abrogated, or that any of the parties will refuse to live up to them, if they are made public."

Duke and Progress completed their merger on July 2, and former Progress Chief Executive Bill Johnson was immediately forced out as president and CEO of the combined firm, replaced by Duke CEO Jim Rogers.

Rogers has since defended himself and the company before the Utilities Commission, Progress employees and others against accusations of deceit. The commission is considering whether to alter its approval of the merger.