The nation's top utilities regulator, who oversaw the approval of the merger between Progress Energy and Duke Energy last month, staunchly defended the right of a corporate board to fire the CEO and replace him at will.
The comments by Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, suggest that even if such a CEO switch is unpopular with other board members, employees and state regulators, "everybody needs to move on."
Wellinghoff made his comments Tuesday at an industry conference in Washington. His remarks were reported by Bloomberg News.
Wellinghoff's remarks came in response to reporters' questions about Charlotte-based Duke's firing of CEO Bill Johnson, 58, just hours after the merger was completed July 2. Wellinghoff noted that he's not specifically discussing Duke or Johnson because the FERC docket on the matter remains open and he can't comment on it, Bloomberg reported.
"I believe that a board of directors of a utility has the right to decide whoever they want to run the utility," Wellinghoff said at a Platts Energy Podium. "Once the board of directors does that, regardless of their timing, I think everybody needs to move on."