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Clean energy group asks Cooper to review Duke Energy settlement

A Durham advocacy group has asked attorney general Roy Cooper to investigate whether Duke Energy and the N.C. Utilities Commission engaged in illegal “backroom deal-making” during talks to settle the Duke-Progress Energy merger probe.

Duke CEO Jim Rogers told the Observer this month that he negotiated the settlement terms, working with commission Chairman Edward Finley. The agreement, approved in December, ended an investigation into the firing of former Progress chief executive Bill Johnson to lead the combined companies.

N.C. WARN, a clean-energy group that has complained of unwarranted secrecy surrounding the merger, says the contact between Rogers and Finley apparently violated a state law against private communication between commissioners and the parties to a case.

A personal note to Jim Rogers

Protesters greeted attendees of the Emerging Issues Forum.

Just outside the front door of N.C. State's McKimmon Center, a small group of members of environmental group N.C. WARN held signs saying "Dupe Energy."

Another sign was specifically aimed at Duke Energy head Jim Rogers. "Cancel Cliffside" it pleaded.

The Cliffside coal-fired power plant was recently given final approval by state regulators, though environmentalists have argued it will contribute to global warming and air pollution in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

At the door, N.C. WARN members handed out a one-page memo headlined "Green-Scam Alert."

It argued that Duke has "misled the public, media and elected leaders" on its concerns about global warming as well as the environmental impacts of the Cliffside plant.

This year's forum is focusing on global warming and energy conservation.

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