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Progress Energy CEO urges patience in pending merger

Posted January 19, 2011

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— After trying for more than a week to quell employee fears over a pending acquisition by Duke Energy, Progress Energy Chief Executive Bill Johnson acknowledged Wednesday that he is a bit anxious about the $26 billion deal himself.

"I understand the anxiety. I have a little anxiety about this myself," said Johnson, who will become chief executive of the combined utility.

Still, he asked employees to be patient while details are worked out.

"Be patient. When we know something, we'll tell you. But also think about other opportunities in the company. Where can you make the biggest contribution?" he said.

Johnson said it's too early to determine how many jobs the combined company might cut as it moves its headquarters to Charlotte. While production and line crew jobs appear stable, support positions from finance to legal services will be vulnerable for early retirement and layoffs.

"If we have to let people go, we will have severance packages. We will be fair. We'll be transparent," he said.

The combination of Progress Energy and Duke Energy will create the largest utility in the U.S., with about 7 million customers from Florida to Indiana. Regulators still must approve the deal, which likely won't be completed until next year.

Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson Progress Energy CEO urges patience in pending merger

Johnson said the merger will create cost savings and leverage as the utility plans to build expensive power plants to meet growing demand across the Southeast, but he added that would mean only slower-rising electric bills, not smaller ones.

"Over time, it will go up, and there's no escaping that fact," he said.

Progress Energy employs about 1,800 people in Raleigh, and the company is a major benefactor to local nonprofit groups. The company holds the naming rights to Raleigh's downtown performing arts center.

Johnson, who has lived in Raleigh for 35 years and plans to keep a home in the city even after moving to Charlotte, promised that the company would maintain a "significant presence" in downtown Raleigh.

"I have deep connections here," he said. "I still think this is going to be one of the greatest places to live in America, and the combined company is going to do its part to make sure that remains true."

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  • jdupree Jan 20, 2011

    The CEO is waiving a 65 million golden parachute that would normally be triggered by the purchase of Progress Energy. He will take over as CEO of the combined companies, so he must have gotten a real deal. A lot of local employees will get the raw deal. In aquisitions and mergers, it is usually the very top senior management that benefit most, often more than the corporation itself. They generally appoint the board of directors and appoint their friends and also serve on the board of their friends corporation. The friends basically rubber-stamp anything the CEO wants to do with very little serious analysis of the situation. I hope the NC Utilities Commission really gets a committment from Duke on a serious rate reduction before they approve this deal! Get it in writing!!!!!

  • itsjustasmith Jan 20, 2011

    There is a solution to power bills. Call and ask them to come pull the meter! Problem solved!

  • erinmeeks24 Jan 20, 2011

    Everyone's bills went up in December because it was one of the coldest on record. Holiday decorations, parties, and vacation days also increase the power bill because they increase usage. We really can't blame Progress Energy or Duke Power for US using more electricity.

  • h3ardita11b4 Jan 20, 2011

    "hey my bill went from 185.55 to 415.00 in Dec. and he expects us not to be nervous. No I dont have solar panels."

    1 awesome Dad - i feel your pain! December '09 my bill skyrocketed to $523 and the month before it was a little over $100.

  • Bartmeister Jan 20, 2011

    This state has some of the lowest kilowatt/hour rates around. The thing about power bills is, the rate doesn't change that often, the amount of the bill increases in proportion to your usage. Put a timer on your electric water heater, install energy efficient bulbs, and wrap up in a blanket if you wanna reduce your bill. Heck, just pull the meter if you really want to save. Increases in power bills that are doubled or tripled are due to increased usage of heating systems in lower temps, more people using power in the house (i.e. Christmas season), or irregular patterns.

  • kikinc Jan 20, 2011

    Now I know why my electric bill jumped $120 this month. I hate the power companies.

  • 1 awesome Dad Jan 20, 2011

    hey my bill went from 185.55 to 415.00 in Dec. and he expects us not to be nervous. No I dont have solar panels.

  • luv2surffish2 Jan 20, 2011

    no problem for him.. he got his 7million annual salary

  • Karmageddon Jan 20, 2011

    Ratepayers will be far better off with this merger than if Dominion/PJM had bought out Progress Energy which was going to happen

  • Sherlock Jan 20, 2011

    But of course he wants everyone to be patience because "I understand the anxiety. I have a little anxiety about this myself," said Johnson, who will become chief executive of the combined utility" as I will not be losing my job like everyone else in "support positions from finance to legal services will be vulnerable for early retirement and layoffs."If we have to let people go, we will have severance packages. We will be fair. We'll be transparent," he said and the bills will get bigger........

    be bills

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