The N.C. Utilities Commission opened a formal case—also known as a dockettoday to consider the merits of the NC SAVES$ plan, an alternative to Duke Energy’s controversial Save-a-Watt program.

The electric utilities, notably including Duke Energy, say they’re in the best position to promote energy efficiency, reducing the need for more big power plants, whether coal-fired, gas-fired or nuclear.

However, a coalition of 14 environmental, social justice and church groups wants the N.C. Utilities Commission to order instead that an independent nonprofit corporation be created to do the job, arguing that the utilities have a vested interest in selling more, not less, electricity. The coalition has dubbed its hoped-for nonprofit “NC SAVES$.”

The Commission will take comments on the proposal through Sept. 5, and comments on the comments for two weeks thereafter. The docket, number E-100 Sub 120, can be found on the Commission Web site.

Meanwhile, the commission continues its consideration of the Save-A-Watt case.