Progress Energy

An aerial view of the site.
Duke Energy

A large parcel of undeveloped land near Siler City has been chosen by Duke Energy to take part in the utility's Site Readiness Program. The utility selected a total of 17 sites in the Carolinas, ten of which are in North Carolina. Duke Energy's Jeff Brooks says the 1700-acre Chatham County tract will be assessed for its potential to lure large industry and manufacturing to the area and calls it a "win-win" for everyone.

One of Progress Energy's solar energy farms.
Duke Energy/Progress Energy

The North Carolina utility company Progress Energy is among the nations leaders in solar production. Last year the utility company produced almost 70 megawatts of new solar generating capacity. The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) says that’s the 8th highest output of all U.S. utility companies.

Progress Energy has reached a tentative deal with the Public Staff on the state Utilities Commission to reduce its request for a rate increase.  The agreement allows a 4.7 percent increase in June, then raises that to 5.7 percent next year.  Progress filed for an 11 percent increase in October.  Public Staff executive director Robert Gruber says it's a fair deal.

"What do they actually need in order to be able to operate reliably and attract investors?  You have to compromise that need with the impact on consumers," Gruber says.

State regulators have accepted the terms of a settlement with Duke Energy over its merger with Progress Energy.

The utility commission's vote was unanimous on the agreement terms announced last week. Duke Energy will move ahead with changes that include Jim Rogers' retirement as C-E-O. He plans to spend another year running the company But spokesman Tom Williams says Rogers could step away sooner.

Duke Energy may have to pay billions of dollars to repair the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.

A Charlotte engineering firm says the cost to fix a cracking outer-concrete layer of the containment unit could reach 3-point-4 billion dollars. Utility spokesman Mike Hughes says that's a worst-case scenario.

Mike Hughes: "Including having to do additional repair work that is not part of the planned repair scope."

Progress Energy will close one of its older coal-fired plants tomorrow.

Officials with the Duke Energy subsidiary say the Lee plant near Goldsboro is one of four coal plants it will retire by the end of next year. The company will replace each of them with natural gas facilities designed to cut back on environmental emissions. Progress Energy spokesman Mike Hughes says it's part of a fleet modernization program begun three years ago.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers was in Florida's capital of Tallahassee yesterday to testify before power regulators there. the members of the Florida Public Service Commission questioned Rogers on the leadership change at the utility and about a failing nuclear facility in that state. Rogers said despite the issues the company faces, the Sunshine State is important to the company's future.

Duke Energy announced its first in a series of rate cuts.

Leoneda Inge:  Duke Energy and Progress Energy promised if the companies were allowed to merge they would implement millions of dollars in utility rate cuts one month after the merger was approved.  The first round of cuts comes to about 89-million dollars.

Inge:  Yeah, I was just about to say, it’s about a dollar a month, hugh?

Tom Williams: It’s about a dollar month, but you know we have just begun this process

Some new legal minds will be taking a look at the controversial Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger.

Duke Energy is looking for new board members since the resignation of two former Progress Energy directors. 

The watch-dog group NC Warn continues to fight against the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy.  Yesterday the group filed motions with state regulators to try to re-open the merger hearings.

Leoneda Inge:  One claim NC Warn is making involves more than two-billion dollars Duke Energy plans to spend repairing and upgrading Progress Energy’s nuclear plants.   Jim Warren is executive director of NC Warn. He says Duke Power never disclosed that figure during the merger hearings. Warren fears customers will end up paying in the end.

There were signs early in the Duke-Progress Energy merger process that Bill Johnson would not have a long tenure at the combined company.  Ann Gray is the lead director on the Duke Energy board of directors.   She told the North Carolina Utilities Commission today the board did not have a good impression of Johnson at one of their first meetings in 2010.

Ann Gray:  He did describe himself as being an individual who likes to learn but not be taught. That was an expression that stayed with our board and we watched for that to develop.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission spent hours yesterday questioning ousted Duke Energy CEO Bill Johnson.  The former Progress Energy leader says he was stunned by the controversial turn of events that transpired once the two companies merged.

Edward Finley:  There were no issues with respect to who would be the president and who would be the CEO.

Bill Johnson:  No, there were a lot of interesting questions and issues in the hearings, but that was not one of them.

The merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy was supposed to be a powerful marriage of relative equals, but from the moment they combined, the problems started. The board of the new company ousted one of its new leaders, sparking investigations and cries of betrayal. Host Frank Stasio talks to News & Observer reporter John Murawski about the controversy.

State regulators had some tough questions for Duke Energy’s CEO at a hearing in Raleigh yesterday. They wanted to know why the company switched CEOs as soon as its merger with Progress Energy was completed.

Ed Finley: Mr. Rogers, if you'll come around and be sworn please.

Duke Energy is now the largest utility in the country. But the company is moving forward without its expected leader.

Gurnal Scott: Duke Energy held a conference call with reporters to mark the merger's completion. And board member Anne Maynard Gray had another announcement.

Anne Maynard Gray: Bill Johnson has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the combined company by mutual agreement with the board.

North Carolina utilities regulators have approved the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, the last major hurdle to creating the largest American electric company. North Carolina Utilities Commission Chairman Edward Finley Jr. said Friday the deal was the best possible in an environment of energy industry consolidation. Finley says it was preferable for the two North Carolina-based companies to combine rather than be bought up by a company elsewhere. Conditions to the merger include the companies passing along at least $650 million in savings to customers.

The decision to permit a Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger in now in the hands of state regulators.

Gurnal Scott: North Carolina Utilities Commission chairman Ed Finley was non-committal after yesterday's hearing.

Duke Energy officials hope a state Utilities Commission hearing today is the final hurdle before a merger with Progress Energy is complete.

Gurnal Scott: The commissioners will hear from company leaders about how consumers will be protected as Duke Energy seeks to become the nation's largest utility. Spokesman Tom Williams says the last year and a half since announcing the 26 billion dollar merger has prepared them.

Duke and Progress Energy have filed an updated merger plan with federal regulators.  The companies filed a “market power” mitigation plan they hope will move the process along.

It could be six months before the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger is complete.

State regulators continue a hearing today about whether Duke Energy and Progress Energy should merge.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will hear testimony Tuesday on the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy. The Commission will hear from company officials in favor and from environmental groups opposed to the merger. Tom Williams is a spokesman for Duke Energy.

Several environmental groups have filed a challenge to the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy. The merger between the two North Carolina-based companies would create the country's largest utility. Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Gudrun Thompson says that makes Duke and Progress responsible for leading the way in developing clean energy resources.

An Electric Marriage

Jan 10, 2011

A surprising but not shocking marriage was announced in North Carolina today.  Two – well branded utility companies – decided to get hitched. And if regulators approve the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy – the union will form the largest utility company in America.