Troubled Nuclear Site to in Defending Abrupt Ouster of Chief Executive
By REBECCA SMITH Updated July 18, 2012, 7:54 p.m. ET
Duke Energy Corp.'s defense of its controversial ouster of CEO Bill Johnson is beginning to focus on a central issue, people familiar with the matter say: How Mr. Johnson handled escalating problems at the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida.
The troubled plant, which has been shut down since 2009 because of serious structural defects, is likely to be the subject of questions when Mr. Johnson testifies about his ouster in a hearing Thursday at the North Carolina Utilities Commission in Raleigh, N.C. The plant was owned by Mr. Johnson's Progress Energy Inc. before its merger with Duke this month.
Regulators want to know why Mr. Johnson was replaced as Duke's new CEO only hours after Duke and Progress completed their $26 billion deal, which created a six-state utility company. Under the merger agreement, Mr. Johnson, Progress's chief executive, was to have headed the combined utility.
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