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Duke Florida reaches settlement on federal suit over Calpine plant acquisition

Duke Energy Florida LLC agreed to pay a $600,000 civil penalty after the federal government filed a lawsuit alleging the utility did not file for approval at the proper time when it acquired a gas-fired power plant.

The Duke Energy Corp. subsidiary admitted no wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement, but agreed to pay $600,000 to settle the case and avoid any uncertainty from ongoing litigation, according to a Jan. 18 news release.

At issue was Duke Florida's $166 million acquisition of the 590-MW Osprey Energy Center from a subsidiary of Calpine Corp., a deal that closed Jan. 3. Duke Florida sought antitrust approval for the acquisition from the Federal Trade Commission on Jan. 30, 2015, according to the news release. But the U.S. Justice Department said the company should have sought FTC approval four months earlier, when it signed a separate contract with the Calpine subsidiary to purchase power from Osprey while it awaited federal approval of the transaction.

Duke Florida said it maintains that it sought federal approval on the correct date. The settlement remains subject to approval by the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., and the penalty will not be included in customer rates, according to the news release.