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Duke Energy Pays $600K To Settle Antitrust Case

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Duke Energy has agreed to pay $600,000 as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in a case about whether the utility followed antitrust requirements in the purchase of a Polk County power plant.

The utility and the Justice Department announced the settlement Wednesday in separate news releases. The case stemmed from Duke's decision in 2014 to buy the Osprey Energy Center in Auburndale from Calpine Corp. The Justice Department alleged that Duke effectively took control of the power plant without properly following a federal law that requires filing notifications and complying with a waiting period to allow antitrust review.

In the settlement, Duke did not admit wrongdoing and contended that it sought Federal Trade Commission approval on the correct date. It said the settlement will allow it to avoid the costs and uncertainty of litigation.

"We're pleased we've been able to successfully resolve this case," Harry Sideris, president of Duke Energy Florida, said in a statement. "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 settlement remains subject to approval by a federal court in Washington, D.C. Duke said it completed the $166 million power-plant acquisition early this month. But the dispute centered on Justice Department officials' contention that Duke effectively took control of the plant through what is known as a "tolling agreement" at the time it reached the deal to buy the plant.