Progress Energy Florida is cutting nearly 300 jobs, or 7 percent of its work force, due to the downturn in the state's economy.
The company told employees Thursday that 151 will be laid off and 143 vacant positions have been eliminated. Some employees will be able to take other positions within the company.
"The difficult economy is taking a toll on companies all around the country and is particularly affecting our company in Florida," said Jeff Lyash, president and chief executive of the St. Petersburg utility. "Laying off employees is never our first choice. But we have a responsibility to ensure that our staffing and resources match our changing business needs."
"I'm calling it 'Bloody Thursday,' " said Joe Adams, business director for a group of five local unions that represent Progress Energy workers.
"I know we're in a slump, and the economy is what the economy is, but I think this is shortsighted," Adams said. "This is all about impressing Wall Street, and, of course, it comes on the backs of the workers. And I really feel the customers are going to suffer too."
The utility has added fewer new customers, while existing customers are using less power than expected. The utility used to add between 20,000 to 30,000 customers a year. The company added just 2,000 in the 12-month period ending in June.
Progress Energy employs 4,300 people in Florida.
Progress Energy Florida is one of two utilities owned by Progress Energy, based in Raleigh, N.C. The Florida utility serves about 1.7-million customers.
Tampa Electric, which also is seeing slower growth, has no plans to reduce its work force, said spokesman Rick Morera.
Asjylyn Loder can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 225-3117.