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Posted: 4:36 p.m. Monday, June 11, 2012
By Scott Wickersham
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Seventeen months ago, Duke Energy proposed its merger with Progress Energy.
On Friday, the last big hurdle was cleared when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the deal, with some stipulations.
Duke spokesman Tom Williams said one concern was a market monopoly.
The feds asked Duke to spend $110 million to help other power companies.
“We build transmission facilities that can import more power to enhance competition,” Williams said.
Duke also plans to streamline, eliminating 1,900 jobs through attrition and buyouts, and possibly layoffs.
They’re all things Williams said can keep rates down.
UNC Charlotte economics professor Peter Schwarz expects North and South Carolina utility regulators to agree to the merger.
“One of the big stories is -- I expect to see Duke and Progress together look into building additional nuclear plants,” he said.
Eyewitness News asked how Duke would pay for it.
“That’s going to be a big discussion,” Schwarz said. “Because one of the things Duke has fought for is putting the cost of those plants in the rate plan before completed.”
A new company on the forefront of nuclear technology could help make Charlotte into the energy hub leaders want it to be.
It’s something Duke is keenly aware of.
“It’s a key focal point for the energy cluster effort to bring other energy companies into Charlotte,” Williams said.
Duke has 15 days to respond to the federal concerns. Its goal is to close the merger deal by July 1.
North Carolina expects to lay out a timeline to discuss the merger by Tuesday.
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