So, what about Tampa Bay's other investor-owed utility?
With 667,000 customers, TECO Energy is already less than a quarter of the size of Progress Energy in Florida and North Carolina. The Tampa-based utility will look even smaller if Duke Energy gobbles up Progress.
Roger Conrad, editor of an investment newsletter called the Utility Forecaster, is surprised that TECO has remained independent this long. "I've thought for a number of years that they would have been taken out rather than (Progress Energy Florida)," he said.
TECO officials say the company is doing fine just selling power in its service area that mostly consists of Hillsborough County. "We feel our business plan is working,'' said spokesman Rick Morera. The utility would like to get into nuclear power generation but lacks the expertise. It would like to invest in a plant owed by a nuclear operator.
Paul Franzen, an analyst with Edward Jones, wouldn't talk directly about TECO. But he said the climate is ripe for more mergers and acquisitions among utilities. "Throughout all of last year and the first month of this year, (merger and acquisition) activity is alive and well in the utility sector. Companies are looking to combine operations and strip costs … and the (merger and acquisition) game is one way to do that. It's not easy, but utilities are always looking to merge."