Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) said Nov. 6 that it has filed a motion with the North Carolina Court of Appeals seeking to keep confidential several hundred pages of documents related to its July merger with Progress Energy.
The Charlotte-based company is, however, making public some of the documents that the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has said should not be subject to any trade secrets protection. The commission ruled last month that Duke had tried to shield far too many documents under ‘trade secret’ protection.
The issue springs from the NCUC’s ongoing investigation into the Duke/Progress merger. The NCUC had approved the merger before it was closed in July, but was caught off guard when then-Progress CEO Bill Johnson was forced to resign as CEO of the combined company only hours after the merger closed.
Johnson was replaced as CEO of the merged company by Duke Energy’s incumbent CEO Jim Rogers, who had originally been scheduled to move to an executive chairman’s role. Then this month, Johnson was announced as the new president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Johnson is scheduled to assume the TVA’s top job in January.
As for Duke, the company said in a statement that it was “seeking to keep confidential all documents that discuss business plans, business strategies, strategic discussions of the company, analysis of earnings, guidance for investors, discussions of the nuclear fleet (such as those related to the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations), and discussions of employee compensation and other personnel matters, and similar material.”
Duke said Nov. 6 that it had previously filed 3,314 pages of material with the NCUC in connection with the post-merger investigation. NCUC made public nearly 1,000 pages from those filings.
“Late yesterday [Nov. 5], Duke Energy added to this public record by making public hundreds of additional pages of its previous filings with NCUC. Duke Energy anticipates NCUC will post those pages on NCUC’s website later today [Nov. 6],” Duke said.
“Also yesterday, the company filed an appeal to keep 443 pages confidential, via a ‘notice of appeal’ to be heard by the North Carolina Court of Appeals,” Duke said. “In addition, the company filed an appeal to keep confidential 199 pages of the 2,704 pages of material submitted by former members of Progress Energy’s board of directors.”
In both appeals, Duke Energy’s effort to keep certain pages confidential is consistent with North Carolina law, Duke said. Duke Energy has discussed this with NCUC in two previous filings made on Aug. 7 and Aug. 21, Duke said.