By John Murawski
The number immediately jumped out to Jim Hoard: $9 million.
That’s the amount Progress Energy expects to save within its first year of the merger with Duke Energy, according to the rate increase request Progress filed this month. The savings would come from streamlined operations and staff cuts that will eliminate 1,860 positions over three years.
The $9 million figure surprised Hoard, who heads the accounting division at the N.C. Public Staff, because it’s a fraction of the potential merger savings cited last year by the two companies. At the time, Progress and Duke were seeking approval for the $32 billion deal from the N.C. Utilities Commission and wanted to emphasize its public benefits.
“Compared to the numbers we were seeing during the merger, it’s pretty small,” Hoard said. “We’ll send data requests and spend a whole lot of time checking into how all those numbers were calculated.”
The Public Staff is the state’s consumer advocacy agency in utility rate cases. The agency will urge the Utilities Commission to slash the Progress rate request, Hoard said.