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Duke Ratepayers Won't Bear Cost Of Turner's Severance

Duke Energy's customers will not be asked to cover the cost of a multi-million dollar severance package given to one of the utility company's top executives. COO Jim Turner recently resigned over his role in an ethics scandal. Jim Turner resigned after emails were published that revealed his chummy relationship with Indiana's top utility regulator. Duke Energy is under investigation for hiring a senior attorney at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Turner quit on December 6th, saying his email banter with regulators was unprofessional and distracting to the company. Even still, Duke Energy's board of directors agreed to pay him a $3.75 million severance package. Duke spokesman Tom Williams says compensation for top executives like Turner usually comes from both Duke's shareholders and ratepayers: they split it 50-50. But that won't be the case here. Williams says CEO Jim Rogers has decided, "this was a cost that would be better borne by shareholders, so it will never be even considered by utility commissions when we go in for a rate case." Other benefits such as retirement and bonus pay bring Turner's total farewell package to more than $10 million. The Indiana Inspector General is still investigating the initial hiring that prompted Turner's resignation and the firing of Duke Energy's Indiana operations president.