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Utilities elaborate on job cuts

Florida Progress and Carolina Power & Light detail how departments will be affected by the merger.

Florida Progress Corp. and Carolina Power & Light Co. gave employees a rough idea Wednesday of where an estimated 1,300 jobs will be cut when the companies merge.

For example, more than one in four positions in the two companies' financial services departments are expected to be eliminated when they are combined.

The electric utilities did not break down the job cuts by company. But workers at Florida Progress' utility, Florida Power Corp., will bear the brunt of the reductions because most back-office operations, such as financial services, will be consolidated in Raleigh, N.C., home of CP&L.

The job outlook was part of an update for employees on the status of CP&L's $5.3-billion buyout of Florida Progress announced in August. Integration teams were put together in September to begin evaluating how CP&L will wring at least $100-million of yearly savings from the merger, which is expected to be completed by September. Some of those savings will come from job cuts that will affect 7 percent of the combined work force of more than 17,000.

Bonnie Hancock, CP&L's vice president of strategic planning, and Florida Power president Joe Richardson outlined the preliminary findings of the integration teams for Florida Power employees. Their presentation was broadcast live to Florida Power workers outside St. Petersburg, but the feed had no sound because of technical glitches.

Some employees will begin learning of their fates this summer. The total number of people who will lose their jobs may be less than 1,300 because there are a combined 300 job vacancies at the companies, and each company has a hiring freeze.

The reductions are not expected to be completed until 2003. Here is how the job cuts are expected to break down.

Corporate services: 80 positions from a combined work force of 610.

Financial services: 80 positions from a combined work force of 280.

Nuclear power: 200 positions from a combined work force of 2,820. These include Florida Power's pre-merger plans to eliminate 40 jobs from the Crystal River nuclear plant in the second quarter of this year.

Power operations: 310 temporary and full-time positions out of 2,650. The recommendations include closing Florida Power's trading operation, which buys and sells electricity with other power companies, in favor of CP&L's in Raleigh.

Energy delivery-customer service: 230 positions out of 1,170. The recommendations include keeping open Florida Power's call centers in Clearwater and Lake Mary.

Energy delivery-transmission and distribution: 130 positions out of 3,410.

Retail sales and service: 70 positions out of 190.

"These recommendations are based on the initial 60 days of what will be a yearlong process," Florida Progress spokeswoman Melanie Forbrick said. "They could potentially change."

The review of operations did not include departments such as human resources, information technology and legal. But the companies said about 200 jobs could be lost when they are combined. It is not yet known whether any positions will be eliminated at Florida Progress' Electric Fuels unit.