By Ivan Penn, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Progress Energy and Duke Energy finalized their merger agreement Tuesday, creating the nation's largest utility with 7.1 million customers across six states.

The close of the merger ended a year and a half of regulatory wrangling that twice nearly derailed the $26 billion deal. But officials at the two North Carolina-based utilities remained committed to completing the agreement.

The combined company will be called Duke Energy and headquartered in Charlotte, N.C.

Bill Johnson, Progress' president and chief executive officer, will become the CEO of the new Duke Energy. Jim Rogers, the president and CEO of Duke, will become the executive chairman of the combined company.

Opponents of the merger took a more ominous view.

"Creation of the nation's largest electric utility will require enhanced vigilance and action by public advocates to protect our economy, our environment ...