Duke-Progress merger complete, Progress CEO Bill Johnson resigns unexpectedly

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The state’s second largest electric company, Progress Energy, has completed its merger with North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp., the companies announced Tuesday via the News Service of Florida.

The companies also announced that Progress CEO Bill Johnson resigned from the new company “by mutual agreement,” but with no further comment. His resignation wasn’t expected. Duke announced that Jim Rogers has been appointed president and CEO of the energy giant effective immediately.

Duke, which becomes the parent company of Progress, becomes the nation’s largest electric utility with the closing of the $32 billion deal. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange as DUK.

“The new Duke Energy will be better able to serve our 7.1 million customers’ energy needs in a safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly clean manner,” said Rogers.

In addition to the company’s 1.6 million Florida customers, it serves about 5.5 million additional customers in the Carolinas, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. The Florida subsidiary is the second largest provider of electricity in the state behind Florida Power & Light.

The merger, announced more than a year ago, was approved by the federal government in early June but needed approval from regulators in North and South Carolina, which came in the last few days.

One of the main issues immediately facing officials at the company is what to do long-term about the Crystal River nuclear plant. The facility has been shut down since 2009 for repair work and isn’t expected to be ready to operate until 2014.

The new company will be known as Duke Energy and will be headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.