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Duke, Progress Plan To File New Merger Proposal Next Week

Duke and Progress Energy plan to file another proposal next week to get federal approval of their merger. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission withheld its consent in December because it said the combined company would be too much of a monopoly in the Carolinas. In a conference call with investors today, Duke CEO Jim Rogers said the new plan will likely include building new transmission lines and upgrading existing ones to provide greater access to other energy suppliers. The company expects that to cost about $100 million. "We've really worked to try to address the concerns of the FERC and at the same time address the concerns of the state commissions," said Rogers. "In many senses of the word, we're really trying to thread the needle between federal and state policy." Rogers hopes to get federal approval by late May. Originally, the companies planned to finalize their merger by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, Duke reported that its net income fell 33 percent in the fourth quarter partly due to mild weather. Customers had less need of electricity to heat their homes and businesses.