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Duke Energy Florida's parent laid off 1,900 in 2018

Duke Energy Florida's parent company, Duke Energy Co., laid off 1,900 employees in 2018, but won't say how many were local to Florida. Pictured are Duke Energy workers after Hurricane Irma in 2017. [CHRIS URSO  |   Times (2017)]
Duke Energy Florida's parent company, Duke Energy Co., laid off 1,900 employees in 2018, but won't say how many were local to Florida. Pictured are Duke Energy workers after Hurricane Irma in 2017. [CHRIS URSO | Times (2017)]
Published Mar. 5, 2019

Duke Energy Co., the parent company of Duke Energy Florida, laid off more employees last year than the previous two years combined.

According to an annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, the North Carolina-based utility laid off 1,900 employees in 2018, up from 100 employees in 2017 and 600 employees in 2016.

It won't say how many of those were local, or even in Florida.

"During the last few months, we offered a voluntary severance opportunity for certain employees in specific areas across the company who elected to leave the company with severance benefits," Ana Gibbs, spokesperson for Duke Energy Florida, said in an emailed statement.

In its filing, severance and "related charges" for Duke Energy Florida last year totaled $17 million, about 9 percent of the overall $187 million in severance costs. Duke declined to say how many of the laid off employees took buyouts.

The reduction account for about 6 percent of the company's workforce of 30,000, which is spread across at least six states.

Duke Energy Florida serves 1.8 million customers throughout Central and northern Florida.

According to the filing, the cuts are "part of workforce planning and digital transformation efforts." Gibbs said the cuts are not related to its smart meter rollout, which began last fall.

The new meters allow energy use to be read remotely, reducing the need for employees to physically go to homes and workplaces to check them manually. As of January, Duke said it did not have any planned staff cuts related to that, as employees were still needed to install meters and perform other tasks.

Duke Energy did not specify which positions were eliminated in the cuts, but Gibbs said it did not affect positions related to storm recovery.

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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