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Friday, November 30, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - Jim Rogers out at Duke Energy, but not until the end of 2013

"Rogers exit ends high-flying run at Duke" was the headline of the story by Darius Dixon posted last evening at Politico. It began:

The once-sparkling political star of Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers got a lot dimmer Thursday after a proposed settlement with a state regulator cemented his ouster from the company’s top spot by the end of 2013.

Rogers, who had led Duke since 2006, co-chaired the Democratic National Convention this summer, lobbied to have it take place in Charlotte, N.C., and helped keep the endeavor afloat despite a lag in private fundraising.

The Duke chief’s name has also been heavily circulated on a shortlist of possible replacements for Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who many expect will not stick around for President Barack Obama’s second term. Rogers’s championing of the president’s energy policies has come while other utility companies have decried EPA clean air regulations under Obama, so the CEO is seen as a bridge for the administration to improve its relations with the private sector.

Duke’s tax practices and positions, however, have also rubbed liberal groups the wrong way.

The proposed settlement between the North Carolina Utilities Commission and Duke will close the regulator's investigation into whether the company misled them ahead of approving its merger with Progress Energy, which was completed in July.

Not long after the merger was completed — with the understanding that Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson would take over the new company — Rogers was quickly put back in charge, extending his tenure a year beyond his scheduled retirement. Although Rogers will now leave at the same time as expected, Thursday's action means his departure is among a list of requirements to seal the merger’s success.

From the Indianapolis Star, this story written by "Star and news service report" - some quotes:
Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who built his career through a series of mergers that began in Indiana, will step down as head of the largest U.S. electric utility by the end of 2013.

The move is part of a settlement with the North Carolina utilities regulator that ends an investigation into the company’s takeover of Carolina rival Progress Energy.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission and Duke Energy said Thursday the deal concludes the regulator’s probe into whether the company misled the regulator ahead of approving the merger. The commission had the power to reverse or alter its approval of the merger. * * *

Rogers’ retirement comes at a critical time for Duke Energy’s Indiana operations. The company is awaiting a decision by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission over how much it will have to pay for the massive cost overruns at its controversial Edwardsport power plant, and how much of the cost will be shouldered by ratepayers.

Under the proposed settlement, ratepayers are on the hook for $2.595 billion of the total cost of the $3.55 billion plant.

The settlement was reached after nearly a year of public fighting between the company and its largest customers and several consumer groups.

Rogers spent years dealing with an ethics scandal at the company that threatened to derail the Edwardsport project. Three Duke officials, including the company’s second-highest-paid executive, were fired or resigned in connection with the scandal.

The move also spells the end of Rogers’ leadership of a company he built one merger at a time, starting 25 years ago as the new chief executive of a small, nearly insolvent Indiana utility, PSI Energy.

When he took over that utility in 1988, it was almost bankrupt, having bet big on a new nuclear power plant in Marble Hill, Ind. The company later abandoned it because of rising costs and safety fears in the wake of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 30, 2012 09:21 AM
Posted to Indiana Government