Duke Energy's latest wave of job cuts could be its largest ever

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Duke Energy Corp. eliminated 1,900 positions in its latest round of job reductions, largely through voluntary buyouts but with some involuntary layoffs included.

That is more than was cut even after Charlotte-based Duke bought Progress Energy Inc. in 2012. After that deal closed in July 2012, Duke eliminated about 1,100 positions. The latest headcount reduction appears to be the largest — at least in actual numbers — in the company’s history.

The company has said the recent job cuts were made to control costs for customers and to get employment at appropriate levels for the demands of its rapidly transforming business.

Duke Energy sent Channel 9 the following bullet points:

  • Duke Energy is transforming as we continue to serve our customers and communities in new ways and with new technologies.
  • As we're transforming, we're also continuously reviewing our operations to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • This includes our workforce strategy and staffing levels to ensure we're staffed with the right skill sets and number of teammates to execute our long-term vision for Duke Energy.
  • During the last few months, we offered a voluntary severance opportunity for certain employees in specific areas across the company who elected to leave the company with severance benefits.
  • Approximately 1,900 employees were affected companywide (we have 30,000 employees companywide).
  • A majority of the reductions were achieved through the voluntary severance program.
  • Some groups did need to pursue involuntary severances as well (this is part of the 1,900 number). We're not providing a breakdown of voluntary vs. involuntary severances.
  • This is what our customers expect of us – that we do what's necessary to work as efficiently as possible and maintain the lowest cost possible.

A financial filing by Duke says the company paid out $187 million in severance costs as a result of the 2018 job reductions, first announced in October and now substantially completed. The Carolinas were hardest hit in Duke’s seven-state electric and gas utility footprint. More than 80 percent of the severance costs were allocated to Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress.

That makes sense because the two are Duke’s largest utilities. Spokesman Neil Nissan noted that cuts in the Charlotte corporate offices — which Duke won’t break out separately — will have also bumped up totals in the Carolinas.

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