Coal Tattoo

Duke-Progress deal and the future of coal

In this Feb. 1, 2006 file photo, Duke Energy Corporate Headquarters in a Charlotte, N.C., is shown. Duke Energy Corp. is buying Progress Energy Inc. for more than $13 billion in stock Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in a deal that would create one of the nation’s largest utilities.(AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File)

Huge news yesterday, in the announcement that Duke Energy and Progress Energy will merge.  Here are some of the bullet points from the press release that describe why this is such a big deal:

— Approximately $65 billion in enterprise value and $37 billion in market capitalization

— The country’s largest regulated customer base, providing service to approximately 7.1 million electric customers in six regulated service territories North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio

— Approximately 57 gigawatts of domestic generating capacity from a diversified mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil and renewable resources

— The largest regulated nuclear fleet in the country.

There’s lots of news coverage out there, including some from NPR, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.

But I thought there was a particularly interesting take from Foreign Policy magazine:

Duke Energy’s proposed $13.7 billion purchase of Progress Energy announced this morning could be a blow to Big Coal, which has ambitions to remain the planet’s preeminent fuel for electric power. Both Duke and Progress have big ambitions for nuclear-fueled power plants, and Duke CEO Jim Rogers (right) is among corporate America’s loudest advocates for sharply slashed CO2 emissions.

… If their deal is approved by regulators, the combined companies would be the country’s largest single utility. One of the reasons for the victory of climate skeptics has been the lobbying of coal, oil and other industry lobbyists. But now Rogers’ voice would become more influential in that lobby.

And let’s not forget that Duke Energy has also been showing some interesting concerns about the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal-mining (see here and here) …

(For a different view, regarding nuclear power and this merger, check out Sue Sturgis at Facing South).