Duke Energy, Piedmont OK acquisition additional conditions

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas have given their OK to additional conditions on Duke's $4.9 billion acquisition of Piedmont.

The Charlotte Observer reported the two utilities agreed Friday with conditions added by the Public Staff, North Carolina's consumer agency that supports utility customers.

Important elements of the agreement include a $10 million drop in customer bills over two years for Piedmont's 725,000 North Carolina customers to reflect expected cost savings from the deal.

The N.C. Utilities Commission will begin a hearing on July 18 on the proposed acquisition. The companies hope to close the deal by the end of the year.

Piedmont shareholders, Tennessee regulators and the Federal Trade Commission have already approved the deal. Piedmont serves about 1 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.