BUSINESS LEADERS AND WATCHDOGS OPPOSE DUKE ENERGY'S 5 YEAR RATE PLANS: Lobbyists for large manufacturers, industrial customers and Google spoke against a key section of Senate Bill 559 in committee Wednesday. Walmart, the state's largest private employer and one of its bigger electricity users, issued a statement saying the bill "could lead to unchecked electricity rate increases." "There are better options here," Howard told legislators. "We ask that you slow down." The state's Department of Environmental Quality recently said Duke would have to excavate more coal ash ponds around the state, boosting what would have been a roughly $5.6 billion cleanup plan closer to $10 billion. With those costs and others coming down the pike, "now is not the time to loosen the regulator reins," said Sharon Miller, another lobbyist for large manufacturers.