Duke's earnings up in second quarter

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Duke Energy earned $444 million in the second quarter, up from $435 million last year, but it's Progress Energy's numbers that are catching people's eyes.

Duke reported that Progress earned $63 million in the second quarter, compared to $176 million last year.

Some experts say it's a sign of some of the concerns that led to the ouster of CEO Bill Johnson.

When Eyewitness News went over the earnings reports with Wake Forest School of Business Professor Dan Fogel, he said the weak quarter from Progress jumped out to him.

"This just confirms a lot," he said. "We're seeing some hints of operational issues that existed in Progress."

All along, regulators were told Progress CEO Bill Johnson would lead Duke when the two companies merged.

But just two hours after Johnson became CEO, the Duke majority of the board voted him out and Duke CEO Jim Rogers in.

Fogel believes this is part of the reason.

"I am positive that the board said, 'We can't have this go on, we have to have a CEO that can get this activity under control,'" he said.

When Rogers testified before state regulators in July, he said Duke board members wanted Johnson out because of growing concerns over his leadership, Progress's nuclear plants (significantly the Crystal River plant in Florida), and the company's recent financial performance.

Although a big part of Progress' costs this quarter was a planned outage of three nuclear reactors, Eyewitness News asked Duke spokesperson Tom Williams if this earnings report also backs up Rogers's testimony.

"Clearly there were some things said on the stand," Williams said, "and this information is consistent with some of that."

But Johnson told regulators that Duke was aware of Progress' financials all along, seeming to suggest they were not a reason for a sudden switch.

"You show them all your cards and they show you all their cards," he said of the merger.

Williams said the combined company is on track to meet earnings targets for the year.