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Ousted Progress CEO Fires Back

Former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson paints a very different picture of the friction that led to his firing shortly after the company merged with Duke Energy. Last week, Duke CEO Jim Rogers told state utility regulators the company's board lost confidence in Johnson's leadership abilities. Johnson told the North Carolina Utilities Commission today that he believes the real problem was cold feet. He says Duke officials were having second thoughts about the merger because of the expensive concessions regulators were demanding. Meanwhile Johnson says he was intent on making the merger happen because it would be good for Progress shareholders and customers. "I think it comes down to this - they wanted the merger, then they didn't want it," said Johnson. "Then they couldn't get out of it. Then they didn't want to be stuck with me as the person who dragged them to it." Johnson also adamantly denies allegations that he agreed to a lower sales price for Progress Energy in exchange for being made CEO of the combined company. Johnson says it was Duke Energy's idea to do the merger and put him in charge. He says he was entirely surprised when the new company's board fired him just hours after the merger was complete on July 2nd. Friday, two long-time Duke Energy directors who engineered Johnson's ouster will be in Raleigh to tell commissioners their version of events. Tune in to All Things Considered from 4 to 6 this afternoon for more on this breaking story.