CHARLOTTE – The merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy has combined two utilities under one name, but the operations of the company remain as two units.
Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks says, while it’s a possibility that one day the company will merge the entire function of the two utilities into one, the main focus now is on bringing the internal operations together.
“We have Duke Energy Carolinas in the western half of the state and then Duke Energy Progress—which is the former Progress Energy footprint—that serves customers in the eastern half of the state and Asheville,” Brooks says.
Duke Energy now serves 3.2 million customers in 83 of the state’s 100 counties and is the nation’s largest utility company.
Brooks says it helps to remember that if you were a customer of Duke Energy before the merger, you’re still under the Duke Energy utility; if you were a Progress Energy customer, you are now under the Duke Energy Progress utility.
He says a major positive to the merger is the distribution of electricity.
“We, for example, now jointly dispatch our generation fleet—so in other words, our power plants,” Brooks says. “Even though they belong to the two separate utilities, we think of them as one fleet in the way that we dispatch them day-to-day to support customer needs.”
Brooks says the company has recognized the growing pains. He says one of the biggest problem areas is in the reporting of power outages.
“Outage reporting has been one area where we’ve seen some instances of customers getting confused as to which system they should use,” Brooks says. “But the main thing that helps is if they go to duke-energy.com, for the customer it will ask them where are you located? So it will ask them to enter their service address, or they can select which area they’re in, and once they do that, it can remember where they were when they come back to the sites.”
Duke Energy provides customer service for both utilities for questions about billing and payments, moving service, outages, and other topics.