Earlier this month, Bill Johnson enjoyed one of the shortest — and most lucrative, in dollars/hour — terms as CEO in U.S. history, as he was ousted from his new position at Duke Energy after only a few minutes on the job. Earlier today, Johnson explained to regulators that his brief time on the job was just as surprising to him as it was to the rest of the world.
Two weeks ago, regulators approved the merger of two utility companies, Duke Energy and Progress Energy, both based in North Carolina. The merger of smaller Progress with larger Duke created the largest electric utility in the United States. Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson was approved as CEO of the merged company. It was all very corporate and mundane until the corporate intrigue started. Johnson was on the job for about twenty minutes before board members from the Duke side asked for his resignation, replacing him with Duke CEO Jim Rogers. Not that there’s any need to cry for Johnson: he’ll get $45 million for that twenty minutes of work, and for keeping his trap shut about why he was ousted.
Reader Jim writes in to let us know that he feels mislead by a pushy salesperson for Vectren Source, a gas supplier in Ohio. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this business, gas suppliers are independent companies that you can choose to purchase gas from instead of your utility.
Duke Energy plans on bringing the smartest thing to Indiana since Keith. It’s a “smart” power grid that lets customers keep daily tabs on energy usage and tips Duke off when power outages occur. The grid upgrade will cost the company — and in turn, possibly customers, although Duke is applying for federal stimulus funds that would fund the project — $445 million and more than five years to roll out. Hey, nobody said the future would be cheap or come quickly.
Josh chopped down Duke Energy‘s thicket of phone trees by launching the mighty Executive Email Carpet Bomb. He had a simple request: turn on the power to his construction site. Calling the main customer support number led to a series of thirty-minute waits while listening to Duke’s cheerful computer voice promise that he would hold “for no longer than one minute.” He also sent six emails to Duke’s customer service inbox, all of which were ignored. Finally, after three weeks without power, Josh tracked down executive contact info for Duke’s executives and fired off an EECB. Five minutes later, his problem was solved.