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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rate your energy company? Good luck with that.

Posted By on Sun, Aug 21, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Elyce Feliz
  • Elyce Feliz

The Charlotte daily is — rightfully — questioning why some information from our energy companies is considered proprietary.

... it's not so easy for Duke Energy or Progress Energy customers in the Carolinas to find out how well the utilities perform their most basic task: delivering electricity.

Utilities closely monitor power-outage data, which helps them spot problem areas and decide how to spend maintenance money. They regularly compare their performance with peers, using simple reliability indexes.

Duke and Progress, which plan to merge by year's end, also share their performance data with North Carolina utility consumer advocates — in reports marked "proprietary." The information can't be released to the public, although 36 other states require the information to be reported and made available.

That might change soon in North Carolina. After the Charlotte Observer questioned the practice, "we're re-evaluating whether that should be treated as proprietary," said Robert Gruber, executive director of the North Carolina Utilities Commission's Public Staff, which represents utility customers.

Even if Duke and Progress publish their numbers, their reliability indexes alone are of limited use. Without regional or national benchmarks, which aren't available to the public without some digging, the utilities can't be compared with those in other states.

Read the rest of this article here.

I'll also point out that these same companies are tight lipped about damn near everything, and the state seems to coddle them on this level to an extreme ... of course, theirs is a long and incestuous relationship.

Speaking of, I've had to travel to Raleigh to gather data the energy companies have submitted to the state; information the state could — and should — post online, or copy to their regional office in much-closer Mooresville. This is public information, people, nothing proprietary. So, why isn't it easier to access?

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