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Proposed Progress Energy merger creates questions for Raleigh

Posted January 12, 2011

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— Uncertainty hangs over Raleigh as the city stands to lose its only Fortune 500 headquarters when Progress Energy is acquired by Charlotte-based Duke Energy.

Regulators must still approve the $26 billion deal. If approved, the merger would result in the largest utility in the U.S., with about 7 million customers from Florida to Indiana.

Officials said that size would benefit customers since the combined firm would be able to operate more efficiently and spread its costs across a larger base of customers.

Company representatives said they would stress attrition and retirements to reduce payroll, but the overall job impact wouldn't be known for at least another year.

Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Harvey Schmitt said it's too early to tell how much the city might lose in the deal. He said he remains hopeful since company leaders promised to keep a strong presence in Raleigh while moving the utility's headquarters to Charlotte.

"This is a very dynamic market. We're going to have some ups and some downs, but our ups are much higher than our downs," Schmitt said.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker put a positive spin on the potential for vacant office space downtown.

Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts sign Proposed Progress Energy merger creates questions for Raleigh

"We don't have any major space downtown, and if they do have 30,000 to 50,000 square feet that becomes available in the next couple of years, that actually could become an asset in terms of new businesses coming in," Meeker said.

Both Progress Energy and Duke Energy are big corporate givers in their communities, combining for about $25 million in donations to nonprofit groups each year. The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh is a symbol of the firm's largesse.

"There's always a concern when companies merge. Nonprofits are concerned about whether that will mean fewer contributions," said Todd Cohen, editor of The Philanthropy Journal in Raleigh.

In federal filings, company executives promise to maintain their level of giving for at least two years.

"Being a good corporate citizen is good for the bottom line," Cohen said.

22 Comments

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  • cas213 Jan 14, 2011

    a utility's job is to supply power to customers at a fair rate. it's not their job to employ as many individuals as possible.

    if they had an excessive number of employees, costs would go up and you folks would complain. they try to merge to cut some redundant jobs, increase dispatching efficiency, and save some money in acquiring fuel (all of which save the customer money) and you folks still complain.

    keep complaining

  • luvbugmom4life Jan 14, 2011

    its all about the big dogs (ceos) making that money & dont care about the middle men who work it or for that matter who it effects..this could put jobs in jeopardy for hard honest working people! 1 word Greed

  • Mugu Jan 14, 2011

    bnkrman and people like him make me laugh... the ignorance is deafening.

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Jan 14, 2011

    bnkrman, you are so ignorant. Have you even gone to college? Wake Tech does not count.

    Regardless of this sports school ignorance and idiocracy, Raleigh should start making their own power through renewable resources.

    Look at Los Angeles... during the energy crisis there a few years back, DWP was the only stable source of energy.

  • bnkrman1 Jan 13, 2011

    I don't want ANYTHING to do with the name Duke in it! Go Heels!

  • Wolfpack12 Jan 13, 2011

    I myself am very concerned. My father has worked at PE for over 25 years and now he isn't sure if he will have a job next year.

  • ncspamfish Jan 13, 2011

    this is a real opportunity for raleigh and the duke-cpl entities. raleigh keeps moaning about a public safety center. and duke-cpl will likely vacate its tower facility downtown with functions and people moved to charlotte.

    do those things generate any thought about the two events converging? raleigh gets a public safety center possibly at a really good price and duke-cpl gets rid of a piece of odd lot real estate that no other organization would have.

    i can hear raleighites now........oh that wont work, it ll never do, it requires too much $$$ to retrofit......yada, yada, yada........

    think about it, run the numbers..............raleigh government, you might be surprised.

  • SaltyOldJarhead Jan 13, 2011

    I agree with dcatz! All you folks talking about free markets and competition need to sit back and ask yourselves exactly who DE and PE are competing against?

    The answer is no one! This is not a free market when it comes to power delivered to your house, which is why it is regulated. You only have one choice besides DE or PE and that is to fire up your own generator.

  • dcatz Jan 13, 2011

    readerman, what competition? It's not like Progress Energy and Duke Energy were ever competing with each other and it's not like you've ever had a choice of power company to begin with.

  • carolinagirl1976 Jan 13, 2011

    "Officials said that size would benefit customers since the combined firm would be able to operate more efficiently and spread its costs across a larger base of customers."

    And if you believe that, I have some swampland in Florida I will sell you!

    Please everyone.....contact the N. C. Utilities Commission and urge them NOT to approve this merger. This is BAD for PE customers, employees, stockholders, and it is certainly BAD for Raleigh!!

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