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Duke Energy CEO: We're committed to Raleigh long-term

Posted September 26, 2012
Updated September 27, 2012

— Jim Rogers, the newly installed chief executive of Duke Energy Progress, told Triangle business leaders Thursday morning that Duke is committed to central and eastern North Carolina and will continue to build on the legacy Progress Energy built during the last 100 years.

The speech, at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, was Rogers' first public appearance in the Triangle since he took control of the new electric utility giant in July.

"Raleigh is central to our future," he said. "It's our state capital, and it's our company's state headquarters. We are committed to Raleigh long term. I couldn't imagine it any other way."

Rogers in July told thousands of Progress Energy employees that he wanted to earn their trust during the difficult transition.

The merger is expected to eliminate an estimated 1,860 jobs, including 700 to 1,000 Progress Energy workers in Raleigh, Duke spokesman Tom Williams said.

About 1,150 of those job losses have already been set through negotiated buyouts, while 300 to 400 are vacant positions, Williams said. The remaining 300 to 400 positions that will be trimmed haven't yet been determined.

Rogers, 65, has been at the center of a firestorm of controversy since the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the Duke Energy Corp. takeover of Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc. in June.

It started hours after the merger was approved, when Rogers was installed as the new company’s president and CEO instead of Progress Chief Executive Bill Johnson, who was originally slated to take the position after the $35 billion merger.

Rogers said Thursday that he understands the continued frustration over the last-minute change in management. 

"The CEO change was a big surprise. I know that and I understand that," he said. "Unquestionably, that's not what we had in mind at the beginning of this journey. The board made a leadership decision that it felt like it needed to make."

As for the numerous Progress leaders who resigned following Johnson's removal, Rogers said that he tried to get them to stay. Jim Rogers Duke CEO talks merger plans

"I was sad to see some of those people leave, and I worked hard to get them to stay with the company," he said. "But they each made their own personal decisions for their own reasons."

Duke’s board said Johnson mishandled too many issues leading up to the merger and couldn’t be trusted, but the N.C. Utilities Commission questioned the sudden management shakeup and whether the board had discussed removing Johnson before the deal was even approved. Utilities regulators in August hired Anton Valukas and the Jenner & Block law firm to investigate what happened before the merger was approved.

The commission has the power under state law to rescind or alter its decision.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has launched a separate investigation into the merger, demanding copies of communication between Duke board members and executives. Rogers said Thursday he expects state regulators to make a decision that's best for North Carolina. 

"The uncertainty of the deliberations sort of hangs over the company like a dark cloud," he said. "But I have every belief that it will be resolved in a way that benefits the customers and our state in a timely way."

Rogers also addressed concerns over rate increases Thursday morning, saying that Duke will work to mitigate the costs to consumers while trying move the company forward with new technology. 

"We're trying to work as hard as we can to minimize the amount of increase," he said. "There are different ways to feather it in. We're tying to keep it at a minimal level."

65 Comments

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  • nomorethanthat Sep 28, 10:43 a.m.

    Mr. Rogers ‘statement that he is committed to Raleigh is hard to believe. Just wait until a weather event causes power outages in the triangle and the Charlotte areas and they pull Raleigh area based repair crews to Charlotte and leave us in the dark for longer. This is what has happened in the past to Durham's Duke Energy customers.

  • JohnnyRaleigh Sep 28, 9:32 a.m.

    The bills are already increasing. Check your new bill and begin watching the averages.

  • Conservative Sep 27, 4:53 p.m.

    The state of NC needs choice- competition. not government backed monopolies.
    aspenstreet1717

    Let me explain this - power generation throughout the country is a regulated monopoly. This is because it is a highly capital intensive business. There are few independent power producers but they are few and far between. They still end of selling it to the regulated utilities who then get the power into your residences. This business is not like running pizza joints. Please educate yourself before you make such sweeping statements.

  • br549znc Sep 27, 4:07 p.m.

    What is his definition of long term?

  • aspenstreet1717 Sep 27, 3:50 p.m.

    The state of NC needs choice- competition. not government backed monopolies.

  • meeper Sep 27, 3:49 p.m.

    Translation: Dear Leader is closing all of the coal fired plants, we've merged in to one giant government sponsored monopoly, and that gives us the green light to raise your rates through the roof, and there's not one thing you can do about it. Don't like it? Then buy your electricity someplace else!

  • SaveEnergyMan Sep 27, 3:39 p.m.

    Rogers is liar. He said many things about Johnson that several of my friends, who know and have worked with Johnson for years, say is absolute hogwash. I know several Duke employees who speak poorly of Rogers as well. He'll close up shop in Raleigh, as soon as it suits him. The Utilities Comm is a joke.

  • censorbait Sep 27, 3:15 p.m.

    .....as they pack it all up to head to Charlotte!

  • tran Sep 27, 2:59 p.m.

    "Can hardly wait until our next ice storm to see this disaster unfold."

    Yeah, or the next hurricane. If you thought power restoration after Fran and the December 2002 ice storm took an excessive amount of time, wait until the next one. We'll be lucky if power is restored in less than a month.

  • whatelseisnew Sep 27, 2:53 p.m.

    "Any well respected economist will tell you the changes in the US gas prices have been primarily due to market factors rather than US economic or energy policies."

    I agree with that, however, not pursuing every ounce of domestic energy, and by the way get rid of the fuel mixes and methanol and easily enable the ability to build new refineries and the price can be lower here. Ethanol is a real killer as it lowers your MPG, makes your engine run hotter, plus as I understand puts out some nasty pollutants. Long ago we should have pursued obtaining all of our oil needs within North and South America. What is especially a degree of insanity now is ignoring coal. Most of the big coal producers have been forced to eliminate workers and unless we strike up some massive deals with China that trend will continue. So I hope everyone enjoys higher costs of everything because of decades of foolish energy decisions.

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