The merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy could create not just the biggest utility in the U.S., but also the biggest lobbyist in North Carolina.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the utilities spent a combined $19 million on state and federal campaigns and lobbying in the 2009-10 election cycle.
If that spending continued after the proposed merger, the combined utility would spend more politically than Bank of America.
Progress Energy spokesman Mike Hughes says lobbying is critical in a heavily regulated, complex industry like power generation.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is still deciding whether to allow the utilities to merge. The combined company would serve 7.1 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.