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Clean Energy Advocates Inundate Duke Energy Annual Meeting

Ben Bradford

Duke Energy hosted its annual shareholder meeting in Uptown Thursday, one day before the company releases its first quarter earnings report. CEO Jim Rogers pronounced the company healthy and profitable, but the meeting was also a rare opportunity to berate the CEO.

A few dozen protestors stood in front of the building as people walked in the door.

Inside, CEO Jim Rogers took questions from the audience for nearly two hours. Many of the protesting organizations have acquired token shares to attend the meeting. Questioners included the executive director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Greenpeace, Cleanwater for Carolina, and Jim Warren from NC WARN.

“Yeah, you’re doing a lot more wind and solar, but 90 percent or more of it is not in the Carolinas or any of your monopoly states, let’s be clear about that,” Warren told Rogers.

Rogers started almost every response almost the same way:

“That’s a good question, and I appreciate you asking it,” he would respond.

Most questions revolved around clean energy, and over time, Rogers’ patience wore a little thin—particularly to one comment that Duke should convert entirely to producing solar and wind energy.

“What you’re calling for might work some day, but not in the next 100 years,” he said. “You’re talking to a company that’s embracing these new technologies, that’s deploying them, but we have a responsibility to keep the lights on and to keep it affordable.”

The environmental questions dominated the meeting. There were so many, that Rogers put a stop to them and said he would arrange a separate meeting with the environmental groups present.

Rogers also took questions about raising rates and paying dividends. In general, he described a juggling act between three competing priorities: clean energy, low rates, and making a profit. This is his last grilling by shareholders, because Rogers will retire as CEO at the end of the year.