Thumbs down: Duke's shenanigans
If Duke Energy
's cozy dealings with local regulators in recent years fuel some reluctance among the Indiana citizenry to embrace the company as an honorable corporate citizen, the news following the company's just-completed merger with Progress (creating the nation's largest utility owner) is not likely to ease sleaze radar rumblings. Regulators approved the merger with the understanding that Progress Chief Executive Bill Johnson would continue at the helm, which he did - for less than one day - before exiting the scene with a $44 million severance as the board reinstated Duke CEO Jim Rogers
to the role. As Compliance Week's Matt Kelly observed, "Duke's leaders either negotiated in bad faith all along, or negotiated in stupidity, suddenly deciding at the final hour that Johnson wasn't the leader they wanted... " A salient point for Indiana regulators to consider next week when they begin hearings about a proposed settlement that deals with unparalleled cost overruns and accusations of fraud, concealment and mismanagement. If the CEO drama is any indication, the letter of the agreement is what to watch, the spirit means nothing.