The boards of directors at Duke Energy and Progress Energy unanimously approved what Duke calls a ‘definitive merger agreement’ that will effectively combine the two energy companies. The resulting company will keep the name Duke Energy, and will become the largest utility in the United States, serving approximately 7.1 million electric customers in the Carolinas, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Executive Director Dr. Stephen Smith has the following remarks about the merger:
While it is too early to fully understand the implications the Duke -Progress merger will have on the environment and energy policy, SACE is generally positive about the merger. We have a long history of interacting with both companies in the Carolinas, and with Progress in Florida as well.
SACE is generally supportive of both companies’ commitments to retiring old, dirty, inefficient coal-fired power plants, though we believe that there is more work to be done. We are hopeful in this merger that Duke and Progress can work to solidify their coal-fired power plant retirement commitments and look for even more opportunities to decrease their reliance on coal.
Over the past year, SACE has developed a good relationship working with Duke on their energy efficiency programs in the Carolinas. We have, however, been disappointed in Progress Energy’s efficiency policies in Florida.
We would like to see Duke’s more favorable position on energy efficiency and renewable energy become the direction that the new company takes, but this is yet to be determined. We remain hopeful that the new Duke Energy will take a proactive position on reducing environmental impacts, particularly carbon dioxide emissions.
We also look forward to regulatory review of this merger proposal, as it will offer a renewed focus on the degree to which positive programs such as energy efficiency benefit customers. That review will also provide a reminder of the financial and environmental risks associated with Duke’s insistence on new coal generation and both utilities’ excessive pushes for nuclear energy over more cost effective and safer alternatives.
Overall, we see the merger as being potentially beneficial depending on how the new company commits itself to consumers and the environment. We look forward to seeing how the relationship develops, and which corporate cultural outlook takes hold. SACE is eager to work with the new company to find environmental solutions that are safe, clean, and economically beneficial for consumers in the Southeast. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. For more information, go to: www.cleanenergy.org