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Duke CEO to testify before Utilities Commission amid leader shake-up

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TWC News: Duke CEO to testify before Utilities Commission amid leader shake-up
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RALEIGH -- Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will answer questions from state regulators Tuesday about the company's leadership shakeup.

The hearing before the North Carolina Utilities Commission could shed new light on what happened in the hours after Duke and Progress Energy merged.

Progress chief Bill Johnson was supposed to lead the combined company, but resigned abruptly last week. Rogers became CEO shortly thereafter.

Merger opponents said it's important to take another look at the deal.

"There's obviously quite a lot that has gone wrong with the takeover of Progress Energy," said Jim Warren, executive director of NC WARN, a watchdog group that's long opposed the merger.

The $32 billion deal created the largest electric utility in the country -- a company Warren said is far too secretive.

"We want to make sure that the public's interest is represented here," said Warren.

The commission's two-page order summons Rogers to appear before regulators. It also directs Duke to provide documents related to the deal and the utility's executive leadership.

In a separate request, state Attorney General Roy Cooper wants Duke to turn over meeting minutes and other information that could shed light on the closed-door decision to replace Johnson.

The company's critics said they might get some answers and want an opportunity to ask their own questions.

"Let's get all the secrets out on the table and let's find out how these utilities and the people of North Carolina need to move ahead together," Warren said.

Tuesday's hearing is just the start of the commission's investigation. Analysts said it's unlikely that regulators would reverse the complicated and lengthy merger process, which took a year-and-a-half and involved approvals from a long list of agencies.

A spokesman for Duke Energy says the company will not comment on board actions, including personnel decisions.

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