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Independent panel for Utilities Commission appointments sought

Advocacy group NC Warn took out a full-page ad in The News & Observer on Sunday keeping up the pressure on McCrory to disclose how much stock he owns in Duke Energy, where he used to work, and asking him to appoint an independent panel to choose members of the state Utilities Commission. Pending legislation would allow McCory and the General Assembly to replace all current members of the commission, which this year will consider a rate increase request from Duke Energy.

Groups: McCrory's Duke Energy ties cloud judgment on Utilities Commission

UPDATED:A pair of advocacy groups that have long challenged power companies are urging Gov.-elect Pat McCrory to cede his constitutional powers to appoint regulators to the N.C. Utilities Commission.

N.C. WARN and the state branch of the AARP are concerned that McCrory, a former Duke Energy employee and ex-mayor of Charlotte, will stack the commission with utility-friendly appointees who will side with the Charlotte power company on rates and other key issues.

Their concern is that McCrory has vowed to name regulators who view their job as providing a customer service to the companies they regulate. That concern is exacerbated by the fact that the commission recently concluded a contentious 5-month investigation of Duke, which ended with a settlement that will restructure the company's executive ranks.

NC WARN takes on home builders in ad

NC WARN, a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy and opposes new nuclear power plants, is running newspaper ads challenging the N.C. Home Builders Assocation and N.C. Building Code Council on their positions on requiring homes to use less juice.

The upcoming decision on residential energy efficiency standards is getting much more attention than the usual building code revision.

A proposal to increase home efficiency by 30 percent has been delayed, revived and rewritten, all in the space of a few months.

The N.C. Home Builders Association says the additional insulation, upgraded windows and other changes to get to a 30 percent efficiency upgrade will cost much more than $2,400 for an $180,000 home as reported in a university study.

Home builders have said they will have to eat the extra cost because appraisers won't give credit for efficiency improvements.

NC WARN has a full-page ad in today's N&O, and is running ads in weekly newspapers around the state, said Jim Warren, executive director.

The ad promotes the 30 percent standard, asks readers to contact Gov. Bev Perdue's office about replacing council members, and to submit comments to the council before its Tuesday meeting.

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