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ORLANDO-An estimated 165,000 sf of retail space will be coming on the market statewide next year when Florida Power Corp., the state’s largest utility, closes 33 customer service offices and replaces them with 150 pay stations in retail stores and shopping centers.

The move was triggered by Carolina Power & Light Co.’s purchase of Florida Progress Corp. last year. Florida Progress owns Florida Power.

In Central Florida, eight offices totaling an estimated 40,000 sf will become vacant. They are at 33 S. Washington Ave., Apopka, FL; 737 W. Montrose St., Clermont, FL; 142 E. New York Ave., DeLand, FL; 40 S. Dewey St., Eustis, FL; 583 U.S. 434, Longwood, FL; 5563 S. Orange Ave., Orlando; 8 N. Highland Ave., Winter Garden, FL; and 1100 S. Orange Ave., Winter Park.

Half of the 130 workers at the customer service centers will be reassigned and the rest will be laid off. About 60 are temporary employees. The pay stations will handle only bill payments. Existing call centers will assist with connection and service issues.

The move heralds a new trend locally in streamlining bill payments and giving customers increased flexibility in locations. Carolina Power has been using the approach for several years in other markets. The company hasn’t announced the new pay station sites.

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