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Earlier this hour we told you the breaking news the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approving the first new nuclear reactor in the US and thirty years.
Is this a major turning point for the utility sector joining me now.
Fox Business interview progress energy's chairman CEO William Johnson and -- it's great to have you here just to be clear this new nuclear reactor.
Up but do you think that this is gonna be a boost for the entire sector which has been lagging recently.
-- -- over and -- a boost from the sector you know we've been expecting this news southern is leading new nuclear development.
The -- is really big news for southern for their customers -- really for the country as a whole.
We -- an inflection point in our energy system and building new nuclear is a good part of that so this is really I think good for everybody good for the country.
Let's talk about the merger bill and -- 2011.
A -- hair a year ago you told me expect to the merger between yourself and due to close by the in 2011 and that hasn't happened.
What's going on can you give -- a progress update now.
Yes we've been through all the regulatory approvals and we've got conditional approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but they found some market power concerns.
But they want us to file a mitigation plan is that Department of Energy or another body arrow energy regulatory commission for OPEC -- analyst they're holding it upside so -- issue.
Yes is DC issue and we're working hard to put a plan together will satisfy them and hope to do that in the next little while.
Okay okay let's talk about the financial the company overall the sector because.
Again you've you've been scaling back and in particular your positions in natural gas other energy companies have as well ConocoPhillips for example.
What about natural gas because of the prices being so low is coming an unattractive.
Area for you right now -- For us it's an attractive area because our costs and natural gas go directly to customers.
We get a pass from those costs and so the cheaper the gas at the moment the better for our customers and we have really doubled down on the usage of gas.
The fact that concern at this point that the country is going too far in that direction that's -- the reason I'm so excited about the southern nuclear unions.
OK well let's talk about nuclear power overall because already.
If I'm the progress customer.
I think it's about 30% of sell your customers are electricity is coming from nuclear power correct we're the largest players in the country right now you marked -- the world.
Do you think with this decision today.
That that will shift more upwards for you in particular I mean is our direct benefit for you now.
It's not direct and it's a local phenomenon because you're not gonna build -- new plan -- you have customer demand.
Let's gas prices drop a little bit by -- think it's a great sign for the entire industry.
You know we get need to get serious about replacing the plants it will retire it's starting -- peak in 2029.
So I really think this is a good start it -- propel the rest of the industry over time -- a lot more nuclear.
You've got -- -- right now bill does throw a little tough on you especially after the third quarter numbers came out in particular because you make its moves in the Florida.
They expressed some concern about that laws are a little bit different and that statement how competent are you about the expansion it's underway especially considering you're trying to do a merger with -- We know business is hard every day don't matter what state you're in -- what where -- you doing it.
I'm confident that we're well positioned in Florida in the Carolinas I think the merger will position us even better so.
I don't have boundless optimism and I'm very optimistic about our prospects.
How do you listen pay attention looking analysts have to -- -- the you have to speak to them every quarter like every CEO does but.
Fifteen of -- event that is what -- cover you have a hold on your company obviously part of that is the merger but also some of the financials they raise questions about earnings of the company.
-- responded as the C.
You know earnings.
Have been challenging and our industry because demand is down for four years and Roche was a little hard when your top line shrinking.
To generate earnings growth you know the analysts there -- important.
They have one perspective which is your financial performance.
Company like ours we have a lot of stay -- we need to serve four million customers every day to have to worry about a number of things not just financial performance so.
He actually listen to him there importantly you have another group of stakeholders -- you really have to pay attention to.
So -- that is the shareholders and and the customers I mean you're saying it's it it's equal in both regards to your shareholders can't.
Succeed over time militia customers are happy regulators are happy.
Mean legend direct link and our business to let's talk about Washington we have -- I mean that and again many of these of these groups have complete control over you these agencies some of these decisions of course are going to be political of course the mechanisms in Washington accountable while viewers know very well.
Handle that is a hard -- -- time to -- patients.
Oh with how long it takes for commissions and agencies and Washington to get around to approving a projects that you want to see -- -- your company.
So show I've been in the business more than thirty years and I have seen a lot of things in Washington I'm no longer surprised it.
Almost anything sure the delays are frustrating but my view this -- people are trying to do their job and doing right and you know it's hard for everybody it sure can be frustrate.
You know where the things that we're saying in particular and it -- -- for those that are supported nuclear power this news that we got from.
The commission today good news but there are still several lawsuits being mounted by environmentalists most challenging that they don't wanna see.
These -- nuclear reactors be built in this country they're worried about actually -- us are now.
I'm just about our thanks to breaking news president Obama's.