NEW YORK — Duke Energy Corp., the nation's largest electric utility, named Chief Financial Officer Lynn Good to replace Jim Rogers next month as CEO.
Rogers, 65, will retire on July 1. He agreed to step down by the end of the year as part of a settlement with North Carolina regulators after a contentious takeover Progress Energy last year.
Rogers has spent the past year working to clean up a number of problem spots within the company and provide a relatively fresh start for Good.
Duke reached a deal with Indiana regulators over an advanced coal-fired power plant that ballooned in cost to $3.5 billion, from an original estimate of $1.9 billion. The plant began operating this month. The company also decided to close the damaged Crystal River nuclear plant near Tampa, Fla., that it inherited in the Progress acquisition. Duke has also agreed to rate increases with regulators in North Carolina and Ohio.
Now it will fall to Good to continue to repair some key relationships. North Carolina regulators and former Progress workers chaffed at a last-minute switch that put Rogers, and not the head of Progress, in charge in the hours after the companies combined a year ago.
Good, 54, has been working under Rogers since she joined Cinergy, a Duke predecessor company, in 2003. She has been Duke's CFO since 2009.
Good said in an interview Tuesday that the healing process was well under way on both fronts. Rate agreements with North Carolina regulators in Duke and former Progress service areas have been reached in recent weeks, and Good says she will spend the next several weeks meeting with regulators in all of the company's service areas.
"It's a high priority to build trust and confidence with the commission," she said. "There's a clear recognition that relationship is very important to us."
Good said integration of the two companies has been helped by Duke and former Progress employees working together on major projects. That includes the recent rate cases in North Carolina and the service restoration work after 700,000 customers were left without power after last week's storms.
Duke, based in Charlotte, N.C. serves 7.2 million customers in the Carolinas, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. It is the largest U.S. utility as measured by number of customers and market value.
Like many U.S. utilities, Duke is facing a future of almost no growth in electricity demand as homes, buildings, devices and appliances get more efficient.
Good said one of her chief priorities as CEO would be to find ways to keep company profits rising by looking for ways to cut costs and grow the company even without rising electricity sales.
Good, who was formerly in charge of mergers and acquisitions at Duke, said the company is still working on integrating Progress Energy into Duke. But she would not rule out future combinations.
"The business case for consolidation in this industry remains," she said. "We will look at opportunities as they arise."
Good will also take a seat on the company's board July 1. Rogers, who has been president at Duke since 2006, will retain his board chairman seat until the end of the year. Rogers, who was also CEO of Cinergy before it was acquired by Duke, will end a 25-year run as a utility CEO.
The board plans to name one of its independent directors as chair-elect in the coming weeks to replace Rogers as chairman.
Duke shares rose 40 cents to $68.05 in morning trading Tuesday.
AP Writer Emery Dalesio contributed from Raleigh, N.C. Follow Jonathan Fahey on Twitter at . http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey