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    The federal government has given early approval for the creation of the largest electric utility in the country, but it imposed several requirements before the merger could be completed, according to The Associated Press.

    Duke Energy and Progress Energy, two utility companies located in North Carolina and the largest electric companies for much of the southeast, announced plans for a $13.7 billion merger in January. The deal would create the single largest electric company in the U.S. with more than 7.1 million consumers spread throughout North and South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the deal on Friday, September 30, but with the caveat that the companies would need to suggest proposals to avoid anti-competitive concerns that might raise electricity rates. These efforts could include joining a regional transmission authority, selling power plants or other such possibilities.

    The regulatory agency offered 60 days to present the necessary proposals, but The Associated Press reports that the companies will take much less time as they seek to complete the merger before the end of the year. Opponents will have 30 days to present counter-arguments.