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Energy & Environment
Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

Duke Feels The Effect Of Weather In Earnings


Cold weather helped and drought hurt Duke Energy’s earnings this quarter. The company announced its results today, which included the effects of its settlement with federal prosecutors and a changing customer base.

Duke made $881 million for the quarter, beating analyst expectations and up about $50 million from the same time last year. The primary reason CEO Lynn Good pointed to was the weather. Another cold winter had customers cranking the heat more than expected.

“On February 20, we set new all-time peak demand records in the Carolinas,” Good told analysts on the company earnings call.

On the other hand, drought in Brazil hurt Duke’s international business. Brazil cut back its use of Duke-owned hydroelectric dams. The company earned just $36 million, almost $100 million less than the same time last year.

Changing usage

Weather-aside, Duke’s chief financial officer Steve Young noted U.S. households are using less power.

“I do continue to see usage per customer continuing to go down due to energy efficiency, due to people living more in smaller spaces, condominiums and apartments,” said Young. “But on the flipside of that, we are adding customers very strongly.”

Young attributed much of that growth to an increasingly healthy economy.

Coal ash

Good also discussed the ramifications of the $100 million settlement with federal prosecutors about criminally mishandling coal ash.

“As a consequence of this misdemeanor plea, we are working through an agreement to avoid debarment with the EPA,” said Good.

Debarment would make the company ineligible for new federal contracts, Good said.

She also announced Duke has set aside $3.5 billion to close its existing coal ash ponds in North Carolina to comply with state law. The company will announce how much it expects to spend on closing coal ash ponds in other states to meet new federal regulations.

Duke’s stock was trading at $77.57 at the time of this report—even with Thursday’s closing price.