by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A unanimous N.C. Supreme Court issued an opinion today upholding the N.C. Utilities Commission’s 2013 decision to award Duke Energy Progress a rate increase of $178 million, including a 10.2 percent return on equity. Duke originally had sought an increase of 11.25 percent.
The ruling means a legal loss for N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper and environmental group NC WARN, which had challenged the Utilities Commission’s rate findings. Justice Barbara Jackson writes for the court:
The Attorney General argues that the Commission’s order is legally deficient because it is not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence and does not include sufficient findings, reasoning, and conclusions. Specifically, the Attorney General contends that the Commission failed to make findings of fact showing in “meaningful detail” that it considered the impact of changing economic conditions upon customers when determining ROE. The Attorney General asserts that the Commission must “quantify” the extent to which it adjusted the final ROE to account for consumer interests. We disagree.