Midtown Raleigh News

Business Briefs

State regulators OK Duke settlement

The N.C. Utilities Commission halted its five-month investigation of Duke Energy on Monday by adopting far-reaching changes that will shake up the Charlotte-based power company’s executive ranks and potentially influence how Duke operates from Florida to the Midwest.

The changes reshuffle key executives, establish a special board to search for a new CEO, and strip legacy Duke directors of their majority on the company’s board. Duke signed on to the negotiated terms, which also require the company to issue a written statement of penance for its mishandling of its $32 billion merger with Progress Energy.

Wall Street analysts saw the restructuring and closure as making the company stronger.

The conditions accepted by Duke will have the effect of reducing the influence of Duke officials within their company and restoring the power balance that Progress lost when Duke fired CEO Bill Johnson this past summer.

Some described the settlement approved Monday as sweeping in its effect but modest in its bill of particulars. The mandated resignation of CEO Jim Rogers by the end of 2013, and mandatory retirement of board members at age 71, merely hold the company to its own contracts and bylaws. The selection of the next CEO will be handled by a special committee equally represented by Duke and Progress.

A condition requiring that Duke keep at least 1,000 employees in Raleigh for five years codifies a general goal the company had previously spelled out, but the commission did not go nearly as far as at least one other state that required a merging utility to keep dual headquarters.

The settlement also exacts a $30 million payment from Duke in rate savings and other benefits for North Carolina. From staff reports

Koko FitClub opening two spots in Raleigh

Get fit in 30 minutes is the premise behind Koko FitClub, a gym that offers customized workouts through technology that guides you through your training. The area’s first club opened this past summer in Cary.

Now Neil and Luana Deans, who have the Raleigh franchise, are opening two clubs – in Stonehenge Market on Creedmoor Road and in Leesville Towne Centre at Leesville and Strickland roads. The couple plan to open three more clubs in Raleigh by the end of 2013, including one inside the Beltline.

The gyms offer a “Smartraining” system that guides members through workouts. At the initial session, a “fit coach” gives members a test to determine strength level. That information, along with fitness goals, helps determine a workout plan.

The plans are loaded onto USB drives called Koko Keys. Gym-goers plug their keys into automated strength training machines to be guided through workouts with on-screen feedback. Progress and workout data are stored on the keys as well as on personal Web pages, said Luana Deans.

Membership costs $79 per month under a yearlong contract. Month-to-month, the cost is $99 a month. Those who sign up before Dec. 15, will get December free, and the gym will waive the enrollment fee. A door access card for unstaffed hours costs $50.

While the training is automated, Deans said, coaches are nearby. From staff reports

New olive oil, vinegar shop changes its name

A recently opened gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar store in North Raleigh has changed its name.

Because of copyright concerns, the Lafayette Village business off Falls of Neuse Road is now called The Olive Wagon. The new website will be www.theolivewagon.com. From staff reports

Plantation Point center to add Tuesday Morning

Tuesday Morning has signed a lease at Plantation Point Shopping Center, across from Triangle Town Center Mall at Capital Boulevard and Interstate 540 in Raleigh. The store sells name-brand closeout merchandise. From staff reports