Just another Network site

Duke Energy agrees to $600,000 antitrust settlement over Polk plant

Duke Energy agrees to $600,000 antitrust settlement over Polk plant

  • Duke Energy agrees to $600,000 antitrust settlement over Polk plant 01/20/17 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2017 6:40pm] Photo reprints | Article reprints
  • The plant was known as the Osprey Energy Center.
  • Duke had planned to build additional electricity-generation plants and seek $1.9 billion from customers to meet its future energy needs in Florida.
  • Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department accusing it of breaking antitrust law in the purchase of a power plant in Polk County known as the Osprey Energy Center.
  • The purchase of the plant was by Duke Energy Florida, but the settlement was with the subsidiary’s parent company, Duke Energy.

Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department accusing it of breaking antitrust law in the purchase of an independent power plant in Polk County.

@TB_Times: Duke Energy agrees to $600,000 antitrust settlement over Polk plant

Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department accusing it of breaking antitrust law in the purchase of an independent power plant in Polk County.

Duke Energy admitted no wrongdoing in a case in which it was accused of filing for Federal Trade Commission review of the acquisition four months later than it should have. The FTC is mandated to protect consumers from deals that impinge competition.

While the deal did not officially close until Jan. 3, the Justice Department said that Duke had actually taken essential control of the plant months earlier and before it sought federal review.

One reason Duke did so, the government alleged, was because the company and the plant’s seller, the Calpine Finance Construction Co., did not think the acquisition would pass FTC muster. The plant was known as the Osprey Energy Center.

But by already having an agreement in place to buy Calpine’s electricity before the deal was finalized, the Justice Department’s complaint said, “Duke argued… that its acquisition of Osprey posed no competitive threat and did not increase concentration because Duke ‘already controls’ ” Osprey.

The government rejected Duke’s logic.

Any violation could have been far more costly to Duke than the $600,000 fine. Had it won the suit, a fine of $40,000 for every day the company was in violation could have been imposed.

Duke downplayed the fine in a news release Thursday, calling the case a “technical violation” and saying it agreed to “settle the case and avoid the costs and uncertainties of continued litigation.”

Duke Energy maintains it sought federal approval on the correct date, “in compliance with the relevant federal statute as it was widely interpreted by most companies at the time.”

“We’re pleased we’ve been able to successfully resolve this case,” Harry Sideris, president of Duke Energy Florida, said in a news release. “The addition of the Osprey power plant to our fleet of other Florida electricity generating facilities will help meet future energy demand and encourage economic growth throughout central Florida.”

The purchase of the plant was by Duke Energy Florida, but the settlement was with the subsidiary’s parent company, Duke Energy.

Duke had planned to build additional electricity-generation plants and seek $1.9 billion from customers to meet its future energy needs in Florida. The company initially opposed calls to buy the Calpine plant, saying it was not cost effective.

But after a 2014 Tampa Bay Times story pointed out the Calpine plant might save significant cash for Duke, and hence consumers, the company abruptly reversed course and decided to buy the plant after all.

Duke Energy agrees to $600,000 antitrust settlement over Polk plant

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.