Ousted CEO: Duke Energy Looked For Merger Exits

The ousted CEO of America's largest electric company is telling North Carolina regulators that Duke Energy Corp. wanted to scrap its just-completed merger after a federal agency insisted it do more to protect competition.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission on Thursday quizzed Bill Johnson, the executive who was dropped within hours of Duke's July 2 merger with Progress Energy Inc.

Johnson says Duke executives asked to renegotiate the merger after federal energy regulators last December insisted on changes to protect wholesale power customers in the Carolinas. Johnson said Progress Energy refused unless Duke paid the $675 million break-up fee.

Johnson says Duke executives also told Wall Street analysts the deal was likely to break up.

But the merger went ahead. Duke Energy now has 7 million customers in six states.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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