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Duke Energy shedding 900 jobs, mostly in Carolinas

Duke Energy is shedding about 900 employees as part of a cost-cutting initiative begun last year, according to its annual report, most of them in the Carolinas.
Duke Energy is shedding about 900 employees as part of a cost-cutting initiative begun last year, according to its annual report, most of them in the Carolinas.

Duke Energy is shedding about 900 employees as part of a cost-cutting initiative begun last year, according to its annual report, most of them in the Carolinas.

The vast majority of the departures are voluntary, spokesman Tom Williams said. Most of the employees will leave in 2016, the company said

Duke had acknowledged in December that it would seek a “relatively small number” of job reductions. The company missed fourth-quarter earnings last month, for the fifth time in the past six quarters.

Duke recorded $142 million in severance costs for 2015, including voluntary and involuntary benefits, in its year-end earnings report.

All but $16 million of those costs were for utilities or operations in the Carolinas. Duke has 14,000 North Carolina employees and 4,500 in South Carolina. Small cuts were made in Florida, Ohio and Indiana.

The company would not estimate the job impacts in Charlotte. Duke employs about 6,000 people in Mecklenburg County, 4,100 of them in Charlotte.

Duke said it ended 2015 with about 29,000 employees in six states. That’s up about 1,000 people from its workforce at the end of 2012, following its merger with Raleigh-based Progress Energy.

Duke offered voluntary buyouts following the merger and took a $34 million charge in 2013 for severance and related expenses.

Cost-cutting has been part of a corporate goal to keep operating and maintenance expenses flat through 2020. Workforce reductions are “an option that will continue to be open to the company for the next several years,” Duke spokesman David Scanzoni said.

Duke said the job cuts are part of efforts to increase efficiency and productivity.

“We are also helping employees transition to other opportunities within the company whenever possible, and using other methods to meet staffing goals, including attrition, retirements and not staffing unfilled positions,” the company said in a statement.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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