By Ivan Penn
Third time is the charm.
After two do-overs, federal regulators granted conditional approval for the merger of Progress Energy and Duke Energy, clearing the way for the two companies to form one of the largest utilities in the country.
State regulators in the Carolinas, where both companies are based, still must approve the deal, though that is widely expected.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s conditions for final approval of the merger, which include the companies submitting timely reports, aren’t considered major roadblocks. Progress and Duke expect to close the merger by July 1.
The new company will assume Duke’s name and include 7.1 million customers in six states, the most of any U.S. utility.
The merger is expected to result in more than 1,800 job cuts as the company consolidates operations in the Carolinas. More than 1,100 will result from voluntary severance, 368 from vacancies and about 350 through cuts, including some potentially in Florida, said Progress spokesman Scott Sutton.
St. Petersburg will continue to be the headquarters for Progress Energy Florida.
Progress and Duke announced the merger in January 2011, but the deal stalled after federal regulators twice rejected the plan over concern that it would hurt competition in the Carolinas.
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