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NC Utilities Commission expected to approve Duke Energy settlement

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TWC News: NC Utilities Commission expected to approve Duke Energy settlement
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RALEIGH -- Duke Energy will meet with state regulators in Raleigh Monday to formally settle an investigation into the utility's leadership shakeup.

This comes several months after the merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy that created the nation's largest utility company.

After about five months of investigation, there's still mixed feelings about the settlement between Duke Energy and the state utilities commission.

But leaders with Duke Energy will make their way here with hopes of putting this investigation behind them.

The proposed settlement between Duke Energy and the state Utilities Commission is sparking some concerns from various organizations.

"It didn't seem like Duke Energy had given up all that much,” said Peter Schwarz, UNC Charlotte economist.

"Instead of a net public benefit, the merger has become a net public soaking,” Jim Warren, executive director of NC WARN.

State regulators began the investigation soon after Duke abruptly fired Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson, who was expected to lead the combined companies, and replaced him with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers.

Now a settlement between Duke Energy and the commission is up for approval. As a part of the agreement, Rogers will step down at the end of 2013.

The company will guarantee a presence in Raleigh for five years and it will pass along an additional $25 million in savings to North Carolina customers.

But critics said the deal doesn't make the public a priority.

"We think the deal the regulators cut with Duke Energy is a total sell-out of the public. It has very little for the public in it,” said Warren. “It has everything Duke wanted in it and it ignores the real issues involved in this merger scandal."

Some are looking to the state attorney general's office to hold the utility accountable. At this point, the attorney general office has not agreed to the settlement and will continue with its investigation.

We're told shareholders -- not customers -- will pick up the cost of the legal fight.

News 14 Carolina's Adam Rhew will be at the commission hearing Monday. He'll have the latest developments about the proposed settlement throughout the day.

Follow his updates on Twitter at @AdamRhew ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP