Even though federal regulators approved the Duke Progress merger Friday night some state lawmakers are still hoping to stop it on the state level unless it addresses billions of dollars in debt by ElectriCities members.
A bill before the NC General Assembly seeks to block the proposed Duke/Progress Energy merger unless the 2.2 billion dollars in debt shared by 32 municipalities that make up the NC Eastern Municipal Power Agency managed by ElectriCities is retired.
House Bill 1163, introduced by Republican representatives Leo Daughtry of Smithfield and Jeff Collins of Rocky Mount, would prevent state regulators from approving the merger until Progress gives the NCEMPA some relief from that debt when it bought into Progress' Shearon Harris nuclear plant and two coal plants.
New Bern Mayor Lee Bettis has been fighting for some relief for customers. Bettis says not only do the higher rates hurt customers, they hurt attempts to locate new business.
Duke and Progress have both said they oppose the legislation and that the ElectriCities debt has no connection to the proposed merger.