• Duke, Progress get federal OK -- conditionally -- for merger

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    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Two energy companies seeking approval to merge moved a step closer to creating the largest utility company in the country.

    Duke Energy and Progress Energy won conditional federal approval Friday night. The multibillion-dollar merger will serve millions of people across six states.

    However, there are some stipulations outlined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, so the deal has not yet been completed.

    An early statement from Progress Energy said the company had received three orders from the FERC that officials were still evaluating.

    The two companies sent a joint release on the federal approval, saying, “We are pleased that FERC has issued all merger-related orders within the timeframe requested by the companies. We are assessing the orders and will complete our analysis as quickly as possible.”

    “We will work to secure final merger-related approvals from the NCUC and SC PSC in the weeks ahead so that we can move forward with delivering on the significant benefits of the merger to our customers,” the statement added.

    The FERC merger ended eight months of brokering between the companies and the federal agency.

    Assuming Progress and Duke officials accept the FERC orders, the companies will then have to turn their attention to the utilities commissions they serve in the Carolinas.

    Duke Energy officials said it would be early next week before they could say whether the company would accept the FERC conditions.

    If the two companies do merge, a total of 29,000 employees would work for the utility.

    Officials said 1,000 people have already agreed to early severance packages. There may also be a round of layoffs.

    Duke Energy has 5,600 employees in Charlotte. The company has said previously that the jobs will most likely stay in the Queen City.

    The newly merged utility would be headquartered in Charlotte, Duke officials said.

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