Duke Energy's proposed merger with Progress Energy got the blessing of a key constituent Friday, raising hopes that the merger will be approved by regulators.
Duke, based in Charlotte, N.C., agreed to buy in-state rival Progress Energy for $13.7 billion in January. If completed, the merger would create the nation's largest utility, with 7.1 million customers in six states.
But utility mergers face tough scrutiny from regulators and often fall apart before they are completed.
North Carolina's chief consumer advocate for utility matters agreed not to oppose the merger in exchange for customer protections. A hearing in front of the state's utility commission is scheduled for Sept. 20.
The deal also needs to be approved by federal regulators and regulators in South Carolina.