Business

Duke-Progress merger to cost at least 700 Raleigh jobs

Posted September 1, 2011 3:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2011 8:26 p.m. EDT

— Progress Energy will shift 700 to 1,000 jobs from Raleigh once its merger with Duke Energy is complete, officials said Thursday.

The Raleigh-based utility announced in January that it would merge with Charlotte-based Duke and shift its headquarters to the Queen City. Shareholders of both companies last week approved the $35 billion deal, which still must be approved by state and federal regulators.

After the merger, the utility will have 1,000 to 1,300 people working in downtown Raleigh, compared with about 2,000 now, company officials told employees Thursday.

The North Carolina utility president will remain in Raleigh, as will some positions that support regional assets and customers, spokesman Mike Hughes said. Those positions might include transmission, distribution and customer operations, nuclear engineering, fossil-fuels engineering, information technology, human resources and communications.

"I'm one of many employees who are trying to understand the information and who are waiting for additional information," Hughes said.

Executives John McArthur, who oversees regulated utilities, and Lloyd Yates, who heads customer operations, will have offices in both Raleigh and Charlotte, Hughes said.

Management of existing major projects for Progress Energy, such as gas-fired power plants planned or under construction, will remain in Raleigh at least until they are completed, he said.

Eligibility for the severance program is still being determined, he said, so it's too early to determine how many people will take buyouts.

"We're expecting the transition period to be a period of many months, if not a couple of years," Hughes said. "Many of these things will be determined based on business need. Even employees who elect to leave through the voluntary severance program that's going to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis based on the needs of the company."

Employees were notified of the job cuts on Thursday in a company e-mail.

Progress Energy has subleased the Two Progress Plaza building in downtown Raleigh to software developer Red Hat, which plans to move its headquarters there from North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus.

"We’ve been a catalyst in the rejuvenation of downtown Raleigh, and we will continue to be," Hughes said. "We have worked very aggressively to recruit Red Hat to sublease our downtown building because we know how important those jobs and investment are to downtown’s continued success."

Debbie Holt, who owns Clyde Cooper's BBQ in downtown Raleigh, said she is going to miss the employees from Progress Energy who drop by for lunch. 

"You build a lot of relationships, and they come and eat with us a lot," Holt said. "We have people that with Progress Energy eat with us three to four times a week."