James E. Rogers is the President, CEO and Board Chairman of Duke Energy, the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States. Duke Energy generates about 63% of its electricity from burning coal.
Duke Energy was poised to become the nation’s largest utility company on January 1, 2012, as it planned to purchase Progress Energy, based in Raleigh. The new company would supply more than 7 million customers. Bill Johnson, current chairman, president and CEO of Progress, is set to become president and CEO of the merged company (which will continue under the name Duke Energy), in addition to serving as a board director. Those plans were rebuffed in December 2011, however, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission blocked the merger on the grounds that the two companies had not laid out proper measures to contain their monopoly hold on North Carolina’s electricity market. Shortly thereafter, Duke Energy and Progress Energy announced that they intended to meet FERC’s provisions, although analysts agreed that the setback could delay the merger by as much as 6 months.
Since 1988, Jim Rogers has been the CEO of three companies, beginning with PSI Energy in 1988, then Cinergy in 1994, followed by Duke Energy in 2006 when it merged with Cinergy. Rogers’ compensation came in at just under $9 million in 2010. Rogers’ previous experience includes work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the lobby and litigation firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. The executive “has served more than 50 cumulative years on the boards of Fortune 500 companies."
Education: University of Kentucky, B.A. (1970); University of Kentucky, J.D. (1974).
“I remember the first time I took a helicopter to look down at a power plant like this, I was 41 years old, and I said, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m responsible for that?’”
CBS 60 Minutes, April 26, 2009
“Sometimes I tell people that Duke is really just a company that processes chemicals to produce clean air, and we get electricity as a byproduct.”
New York Times Magazine Interview June 22, 2008
"I made money on sulfur, and I'll make money on carbon."
Business Week Interview, June 3, 2010
“I actually can see a future where coal is not in the equation in 2050.”
Rogers stands out in the coal (and broader energy) industry as a CEO who openly acknowledges the threat of climate change. Despite this, his company “is building two new coal plants.” Rogers also talks much about the need to develop carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, although Duke Energy is not spending any money on such expensive prospects, and generates only 1.5% of its electricity from wind projects. At the same time, Rogers served on the board of the staunchly anti-environmentalist U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Rogers left the US Chamber's Board in April 2010, although apparently because of terms limits.
Rogers pulled Duke out of the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. Duke claims the motivation for these withdrawals came from the lack of support for climate legislation among these groups. While this appears to be intentional public support for climate legislation, it is important to note that the House climate bill included massive provisions for the coal industry, including emissions exemptions on the two new coal plants Duke is currently reconstructing (Cliffside and Edwardsport).
Duke Energy also faced accusations of double-speak by Greenpeace in December 2011, after the non-profit (and managing organization of this site) highlighted Duke’s conflicting behavior regarding the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or “Mercury Rule”. Although Rogers had already indicated that Duke’s fleet was prepared to comply with the regulation, Duke was apparently a member of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC), a utility industry group that had actively worked “to delay and weaken much-needed federal mercury protections.”
In 2010, Duke Energy spent $6.5 million on lobbying and $1.5 million on the the 2010 election cycle through Duke’s political action committee. Duke is also loaning up to $10 million to the Democratic National Committee to help with the party’s 2012 convention. The convention will be hosted Charlotte, where Duke's headquarters is located, with Jim Rogers serving as head fundraiser for the event. The aid was criticized as an attempt at “currying favor” from Democrats.
According to the Department of Energy, the state of North Carolina has a total wind potential of nearly 300,000 megawatts. When discussing the future landscape of electricity before the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Jim Rogers stated, “and we know that there’s no wind in North Carolina. I mean, we know this because we’ve invested $1.7 billion to build 1,000 MW of wind, but we haven’t built any of it in North Carolina because you can’t make the economics work here” (March 15, 2011, p. 175 [PDF]). That same year, however, Duke was “reported to be negotiating with Iberdrola Renewables to buy power produced from the company’s proposed 300 megawatt Desert Wind project in North Carolina.”
In the fall of 2012, Duke is expected to complete its reconstruction of Edwardsport plant in Knox Country, Indiana, into a new coal gasification plant. Originally budgeted for between $1.3 and $1.6 billion, the cost for Edwardsport has swelled to more than $3.5 billion. Jim Rogers himself testified before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on the issue of the plant's cost, saying “Yes, [the plant is] expensive. But it will be the cleanest plant in Indiana.”
Jim Rogers was placed in a unsavory light regarding the plant in 2010 after the Indianapolis Star reported that he and vice president James Turner had held private meetings with head of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission David Hardy and Governor Mitch Daniels to warn of some of the new costs associated with Edwardsport.
While Duke Energy argued that the meetings were merely a “courtesy heads-up,” other correspondence between Turner and Hardy and between Turner and Rogers raised concerns that Duke may have violated the law by attempting to influence the course of IURC decisions on Edwardsport. During the course of email correspondence between Hardy and Turner, Turner offered to host Hardy and his wife on Turner’s private boat, and even hinted that Hardy could find employment at Duke should he rule favorably toward the company. According to the Indianapolis Star, Turner also communicated to Rogers that “he intended to give plenty of attention to the Edwardsport plant and try to shift costs away from the utility.”