Duke-Progress merger hearings get down to details

Staff writerSeptember 21, 2011 

Public hearings continue all day Wednesday in Raleigh on the proposed merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy.

The N.C. Utilities Commission started the hearings yesterday with impassioned pleas from residents to block the merger, followed by statements from Duke CEO Jim Rogers and Progress CEO Bill Johnson. The agency, which is expected to approve the merger, has set aside the rest of the week to hear from experts.

The North Carolina electric companies want to create the nation's biggest utility with 7.1 million customers in six states. Rogers and Johnson laid out the rationale for the merger Tuesday as a strategy to create the financial heft needed to embark on multi-billion dollar construction projects.

Much of today's expert testimony comes from company executives and is expected to be on the technical sideExecutives talk about affiliate transactions, fuel modeling, dividend payments and equity ratios.

Tomorrow, advocacy groups put on experts who will argue that the companies should be required to offer compensation for eliminating 2,000 jobs and creating a gaping hole in the state's economy.

Environmental groups want job creation by promoting more clean energy programs, as well as increased charitable donations to low-income and community assistance programs.

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