Duke Energy’s Latest C.E.O. Drama
Duke Energy faces even more management upheaval.
As part of a wide-ranging settlement with regulators in North Carolina, James E. Rogers, the company’s chairman and chief executive, will retire at the end of 2013.
The settlement relates to the boardroom drama that elevated Mr. Rogers to the role in the first place.
Following the utility’s merger with Progress Energy, William D. Johnson, the chief executive of Progress, was to run the combined company. But hours after the $ 32 billion deal was completed on July 2, the board pushed Mr. Johnson out and brought back Mr. Rogers. The coup set off loud protests in North Carolina, where both Duke and Progress were based, and state inquiries over whether regulators were misled.
Duke’s board defended its actions, saying simply that it had lost confidence in Mr. Johnson’s ability to lead the company and that the board alone had sole authority over this decision. Mr. Johnson, who was hired this month to run the Tennessee Valley Authority, said he was a scapegoat for Duke’s board as its desire to complete the merger waned.
The combined Duke has more than seven million customers in its regulated businesses across six states in the Midwest and Southeast. The company is readying two large rates cases before the North Carolina utilities commission. The uncertainty over this investigation and its relationship with regulators has weighed on the company’s stock, which was off about 10 percent from its summer high but up nearly 2 percent in trading on Friday morning.
As part of the settlement, Duke, which is based in Charlotte, will be required to keep at least 1,000 jobs in Raleigh for at least five years, rehire one of Mr. Johnson’s former top assistants for two years and replace Marc Manly, one of Mr. Rogers’s top lieutenants, as general counsel. The settlement also spells out the manner in which Duke’s board will search for a replacement for Mr. Rogers, one of the nation’s longest-serving utility executives.
While the settlement says that Duke’s agreement isn’t an admission of unlawful or improper action, it does require the company to issue a statement that says its activities have “fallen short” of the commission’s expectations. The settlement must be approved by the full commission, which meets Monday and is expected to sign off on the deal.