By Orlando Business Journal

The merger of Progress Energy and Duke Energy will result in stronger financial footing for the joint company, with a continued emphasis on shaping and implementing energy policy.

This was the response of Vincent Dolan, president and chief executive officer of Progress Energy Florida, to Mondayâ¿¿s announcement of a definitive merger agreement between the companies.

Both Progress and Duke received $200 million from the federal government for Smart Grid technology investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Now the companies can pool resources.

⿿This gives us an opportunity to reflect on plans, reshape them, and to take advantage of the funding,⿝ Dolan said.

The merger should strengthen the business financially and could provide better access to capital, Dolan said.

As far as Florida jobs, Dolan said he expects the number to remain steady at around 4,000 employees. Most of these employees serve customers on a daily basis.

The company may reduce corporate staff over time, primarily in North Carolina, but much of this could occur through attrition and retirement, Dolan said.

The companies intend to complete the merger by the end of 2011.

⿿These are two like-minded companies that have similar philosophies about the importance of excellence in day-to-day operations ,⿝ Dolan said.

The $26 billion transaction announced Monday will create the nationâ¿¿s largest utility. The combined company, to be called Duke Energy, will be the countryâ¿¿s largest utility, providing service to approximately 7.1 million electric customers in six regulated service territories, including Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.

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