Expert: Duke merger would turn Charlotte into major energy hub

by: Erica Bryant Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Duke Energy is now one step from becoming the biggest utility company in the country.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission approved the merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy on Friday.

Merging the two companies is such a major deal that one business expert said it switches Charlotte’s image as a banking town to an energy hub in an instant.

“This is the new replacement for financial services, and absolutely it will continue to grow,” said Dan Fogel with Wake Forest’s School of Business.

He said the merger will power premium job growth because engineers and people with MBAs will be in demand.

“The merged company will invest in new technology that will be very good for you. This is a real opportunity for people who have skills. But for unskilled workers, you’re not in good shape on this one,” Fogel said.

The merged company would serve six states, including both Carolinas. North Carolina approved the deal, so long as the company gives to the renewable energy fund and passes on the $650 million in savings to customers.

However, one watchdog group is worried about a monopoly.

“It’ll be such a huge utility that I’m concerned that they’ll be able to get pretty much anything they want from both the state and federal governments,” said Beth Henry with NC WARN.

The deal is drawing a lot of attention, which Fogel calls overall good news for the Queen City economy.

“It will influence other companies to locate here, because we all know that when companies are working together in a cluster to provide resources, job growth is faster and larger,” he said.

South Carolina still has to approve the merger.

When Duke Energy becomes the biggest utility company in the country, it will also become one of the largest companies based in the Charlotte area.

Currently, Duke Energy has the fourth-highest revenue of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the Queen City. The utility brings in more than $14 billion each year. That number is sure to rise once the merger is complete.