Another top executive from Progress Energy is leaving in the wake of the Raleigh-based power company's troubled merger with Charlotte's Duke Energy.
Duke said today that Vincent Dolan, 57, will step down by the end of this year. That would make Dolan, who will have worked for the Raleigh utility more than a quarter-century, the fifth high-level executive to leave what is now the nation's biggest electric utility in the wake of the $32 billion merger.
No reason was given for Dolan's planned departure. But it's no secret that Duke was disappointed in the way Progress handled its Florida operations, which Dolan had overseen since 2009. Duke officials told the N.C. Utilities Commission in public hearings last month that they had serious concerns about the Progress-Duke merger on account of soaring nuclear costs in Florida, Progress Energy's biggest service area.
In its announcement, Duke lauded Dolan as "an exemplary leader and a tireless advocate for Florida customers."
Duke's most prominent departure, of course, was that of CEO Bill Johnson, the former CEO of Progress who was forced to resign just hours after the merger closed July 2. Three of Johnson's top lieutenants followed Johnson out the door within days of his ouster.
The N.C. Utilities Commission is now investigating whether Duke misled the state about Johnson's CEO job to get the merger approved. The state Attorney General has launched a parallel probe.
In addition, two Duke board members quit in protest -- they were on the Progress board and joined Duke's as part of the merger -- and two others publicly said they are thinking about quitting.
Dolan took over as head of Progress Energy's Florida operations in 2009, just months before the Crystal River nuclear plant suffered extensive -- and expensive -- damage during repairs.
Crystal River is idled indefinitely while the utility is racking up about $300 million a year for replacement power. Duke executives are deliberating whether to fix the plant or shut it down permanently.
The cost to repair Crystal River will likely exceed $1 billion, and the entire fiasco is likely to exceed $3 billion when the cost of buying replacement power is factored in.