Duke CEO doesn’t deliver on his clean energy talk

by Becky Ceartas

September 28, 2012

The Greenpeace thermal airship A.E. Bates flies in front of Duke Energy headquarters displaying messages to the largest energy supplier in the United States. Banners on the airship read "Duke: Don't Raise Rates for Dirty Energy" and "Cleaner is Cheaper." The flight calls attention to Duke's plans to continue using coal, nuclear and other forms of dangerous energy at great public cost.

© Jason Miczek / Greenpeace


Greenpeace thermal airship sends a message to Duke Energy's headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Yesterday morning, Greenpeace activists Madhura Deshpande, Mike Karnosky, Holly Hanks and I attended the Triangle Business Journals Power Breakfast with Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, the largest electric utility in the country.

Greenpeace activists confront Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers

This was Mr. Rogers first public appearance in the Triangle since the completion of the massive merger with Progress Energy. We asked Mr. Rogers directly about how he could justify asking North Carolina families to pay much more than they do to fund Duke Energy building new dirty coal and nuclear plants. He avoided the question and tried to make it sound like they were doing more than they are with renewable energy.

Duke Energys recently filed Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the Carolinas only envisioned 4 percent of the states energy coming from renewable energy, despite a higher legal requirement in North Carolina. Not only does Dukes plan not do nearly enough to invest in solar and wind, it also calls for building new dirty coal plants and nuclear plants here in North Carolina. If Duke builds those plants, they will have to raise rates on North Carolinians each year for the next 20 years in order to fund those plants. Compared to that plan, Duke could increase its energy from solar and wind to 33 percent and embrace energy efficiency and save North Carolina families $108 billion through 2032.

During the question and answer session, Mr. Rogers touted his commitment to clean energy and keeping rates low. Specifically he said that

  • He will work as hard as we can to minimize the amount of the [rate] increase
  • He sees renewable business as a good business decision
  • Innovation is the key to our country getting its mojo back

But his rhetoric doesnt match reality. Below is just a sampling of a reality for Duke Energy.

  • Dukes existing plants spews tens of millions of tons of toxic pollutants in NC (Duke-Progress: 56.4m short tons CO2, 60,569 tons SO2, 37,558 tons NOx).
  • Two new coal plants in North Carolina and Indiana.
  • At least one new nuclear plant in South Carolina and a proposed expansion of the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina.

We need Duke to change its energy mix to increase renewable energy generated in state, make this state more energy efficient and in turn, save ratepayers over $100 billion. Our report, Charting the Correction Course, shows that Duke can do just that. But it is up to Jim Rogers to change the direction that Duke is heading in. Tell Jim Rogers that his rhetoric doesnt match Dukes reality and that he should follow his own advice and be courageous and be clean.

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