By Julie Rose
Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will step down sometime next year as part of a settlement announced late yesterday that would resolve an investigation of the company’s merger with Progress Energy. Angry North Carolina utility regulators launched the investigation when Duke’s board abruptly fired the man they’d promised would lead the merged company – Progress CEO Bill Johnson.
WFAE’s Julie Rose joined Morning Edition Host Duncan McFadyen to sort through the settlement.
MCFADYEN: So Julie, is Duke admitting it was wrong to fire Johnson like that and keep Rogers on as CEO?
ROSE: No. The settlement agreement says that Duke admits no wrongdoing or illegal act. When I talked to Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams last evening he made that very clear. So, of course, I asked him what the point was:
WILLIAMS: “The primary thing that Duke wanted to accomplish through this settlement is to really improve relationships with the state commission. I mean they were very upset after the merger and the change of CEOS. It was a surprise to them and it was a regrettable one from our perspective. And we told them that in the hearing process. And what this settlement does is it allows us to resolve the matter and move forward in a positive manner.”
MCFADYEN: So what do the company’s critics think?
ROSE: Those I’ve heard from since the news came out last night aren’t terribly impressed. Jim Warren may be one of the most vocal – he’s with the environmental group NCWARN.
WARREN: “We’re really concerned about this settlement – extremely weak and very little in this for the public. And there’s no indication at all that they’ve even looked at the several billion dollars in charges to customers that we believe Duke Energy hid during the merger process.”