Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Business

Duke Energy officially arrives in Florida with iron fist

Now that the Duke Energy name officially replaced Progress Energy atop its Florida headquarters in St. Petersburg …

Now that protesters gather today in Charlotte, N.C., at Duke's annual shareholders meeting to condemn its repeated rate hikes …

And now that Duke is resisting any effort to have shareholders pay for the botched project that led to the Crystal River nuclear plant fiasco …

Maybe it's past time to ask: What do we really know about this new power company?

Here are 10 observations.

10. No question, Duke is smarter, more Darwinian and more politically connected than Progress Energy, which bought St. Petersburg-based Florida Progress in 2000 and lasted a dozen years before being picked off by Duke.

9. After Progress Energy bought Florida Progress in 2000, it quickly sought big rate cuts in Florida. Not Duke. It wants rate hikes and new fees to cover big costs ahead, including the decommissioning of the defunct Crystal River nuclear power plant.

8. Duke managed to defer its 2012 federal income taxes, despite profits of $1.8 billion.

7. How big is Duke? Try enormous. Its market value hovers near $53 billion. The hefty South Florida parent of Florida Power & Light is worth just $35 billion. Tampa's TECO Energy trails behind at a mere $4 billion.

6. Duke offered no compromise to Citrus County, low-balling its $35 million county tax bill by paying $19 million and suing Citrus over the rest.

5. Not one of Duke Energy's directors is from its Florida service territory, so nobody on the board really represents the local concerns of Duke's market in the Sunshine State.

4. Duke's purchase of Progress Energy last summer is already a legend in badly managed mergers. John Mullin, former lead director of Progress, bitterly criticized the ouster of Progress Energy chief Bill Johnson as CEO-to-be of a postmerger Duke. Mullin insisted no Progress director would have okayed the deal had they known Duke's Jim Rogers would be CEO of the combined company. Too little, too late of a protest. Duke won easily.

3. A full-page ad in Wednesday's Charlotte Observer by Greenpeace and local environmental group NC WARN criticizes Duke CEO Rogers (who retires at year end) for not doing enough to fight global warming. "Jim Rogers has seven months to determine how history will remember his eight years as the CEO of one of the world's largest electric utilities: a leader who helped start a clean energy revolution, or a laggard who talked about global warming but never acted to stop it."

2. Duke now controls the Levy County nuclear power plant project first proposed by Progress Energy in 2006. An absurd Florida law enacted in 2006 lets Duke charge Florida customers in advance for the Levy project, even if Duke later decides (which is likely) not to proceed. Attempts to seriously change that law are fading in the current state Legislature. How long will Duke milk this gift from Florida's very own addled lawmakers?

1. So how has Duke Energy's stock fared amid so much tumult? Since late 2012, shares have gone one direction: Up. And why not? Investors are protected while ratepayers absorb higher costs.

So, let's officially welcome Duke to Florida. Just don't stand in its way unless you want to be run over.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

Fed survey finds worries about higher tariffs

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve’s latest national survey has found that U.S. businesses are growing increasingly concerned about the impact higher tariffs could have on their companies and the overall economy. The Fed reported Wednes...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Most of Tampa Bay’s new liquor licenses won by applicants from South Florida, Tallahassee

Most of Tampa Bay’s new liquor licenses won by applicants from South Florida, Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — The newest batch of quota liquor licenses for the Tampa Bay area will go to applicants from South Florida and Tallahassee. In its annual drawing, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco selected the winners of 51 licen...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

Tampa’s 60-year-old Housewife Bake Shop may not be closing after all

For nearly 60 years it was breads, cakes and pastries, up before dawn for the Perrone family in Armenia Garden Estates. For a minute it looked like Tampa’s Housewife Bake Shop was going to close, but third-generation owner Tena Perrone said on Wednes...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Report: Unemployment assistance in Florida lagged after Hurricane Irma

Report: Unemployment assistance in Florida lagged after Hurricane Irma

Note: This story has been updated with a response from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.In the days and weeks following Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott touted his administration’s preparation and response to one of the worst storms to h...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood spending $17.5 million to expand emergency department

Florida Hospital Carrollwood is expanding its emergency department. The hospital, 7171 North Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, is spending $17.5 million to add 15 new private treatment rooms, new pediatric rooms and waiting areas, and new technology, acco...
Published: 04/18/18
Dick’s destroying all the guns it pulled from its shelves

Dick’s destroying all the guns it pulled from its shelves

PITTSBURGH — Dick’s Sporting Goods is destroying all the guns and accessories that it stopped selling earlier this year after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.The retailer said Tuesday that it is in the process of destroying all the firearms ...
Published: 04/18/18
Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs

Amazon partners with Best Buy on smart TVs

Associated PressNEW YORK — Amazon has cut a deal to sell voice-controlled TVs at Best Buy, the latest attempt by the online retailer to get its burgeoning suite of tech products out where people can see and touch them. Best Buy already sells the Amaz...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida ranks No. 3 for most received, sent robocalls in March

Florida ranks No. 3 for most received, sent robocalls in March

Did you get a robocall recently? You’re not alone. Floridians reportedly received the third-highest number of robocalls in the country in March — 244 million.According to the YouMail Robocall Index Snapshot, Tampa Bay ranked No. 17 for cities with th...
Published: 04/18/18
Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

Four new restaurants in Tampa Bay: Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more

TERRA GAUCHATerra Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse, a classic churrascaria-style Brazilian meatery — you know, where the guys in South American cowboy attire walk around with the swords of meat until you capitulate in a carnivorous haze — has opened a loc...
Published: 04/18/18
Tampa executive sentenced to house confinement in insider trading case

Tampa executive sentenced to house confinement in insider trading case

Andrew Berke of Apollo Beach has been sentenced to four months of house confinement and three years of supervised release in an insider trading scheme in which his co-defendant, Tampa lawyer Walter C. Little, will soon begin serving 27 months in fed...
Published: 04/18/18