Updated 07/11/2012 04:24 PM
Duke CEO hosts town hall meeting, details Progress-Duke merger
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RALEIGH -- Thousands of Progress Energy employees had the chance to voice their concerns about last week's merger between Duke and Progress.
It was all part of the company's town hall meeting broadcast to thousands of employees in four states across the country, as the merger is stirring up mixed emotions from Progress employees after a surprise shift in leadership.
It was a walk filled with uncertainty and concern as hundreds of Progress Energy employees cross the street from what was the company headquarters to hear from Duke CEO Jim Rogers himself.
"It's been one of the most difficult weeks I've had in my career," said Lloyd Yates of Progress Energy's senior management.
A difficult week had employees looking for answers in Wednesday's town hall meeting about the fate of the newly combined company.
"Progress Energy as we know it has gone away and now we're Duke Energy," added Yates.
The meeting came on the heels of a surprising turn of events. Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson who was to lead the utility giant resigned just hours after the multi-billion dollar merger was finalized.
"With the change in senior management and the departure of Bill Johnson, it's absolutely a grieving process," Yates said.
The surprise CEO switch up had state regulators call Jim Rogers to testify under oath in a hearing Tuesday. One day later employees had questions of their own.
"We didn't start out on the right foot. I think there were some trust issues. I wasn't sure how this happened," said Yates.
Trust one one of the main components Rogers addressed in the meeting.
"He needs to earn that trust. That was a key focal point in the discussion with the employees," said Thomas Williams, director of external affair for Duke Energy.
Officials said Rogers has plans to put a heavy emphasis on leadership. As for Progress Energy employees, they said the decision to stay was difficult, but are looking to the next chapter of Duke Energy as it's now the largest utility company in the nation.
"This merger makes absolute sense. It's more beneficial to galvanize these groups of people to make the that happen," Yates said.
In prior weeks Duke Energy said about 1,800 jobs would be cut as a result of the merger. They said about 1,100 of those cuts are already in place through voluntary separation agreements.