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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Duke doubling down on clean energy?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 9:22 AM

The headline doesn't seem to make sense at first, does it? Or, perhaps you thought I meant Charlotte's energy giant, Duke Energy, is doubling down to oppose climate change legislation.

If anything, Duke's CEO, Jim Rogers, is making more headway in the clean energy industry and with climate change progress than a lot of politicians, as yesterday's Charlotte Business Journal points out.

How so? Well, for starters, he's negotiating cooperative green energy technology contracts with China and actively working to shape climate change legislation in Washington.

But, what you can't forget when reading all of these headlines is Duke is a publicly traded company. If green energy technology will add a little jingle to shareholders' pockets, green energy wins. If coal is the answer, well, the company -- and their two new coal-fired plants -- are gearing up for that potential win, too. If climate change legislation is a must, might as well be at the table instead of pouting in the corner.

It's doubtful anyone would label Jim Rogers, whose company is the third largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in the country, as an environmentalist without laughing themselves into the loony bin. However, there's no doubt he's a great business man.

So, I say, if Rogers can significantly lower his company's Co2 emissions, create green jobs, green the energy grid and turn a profit all at the same time and without regulation -- more power to him.

All the same, most environmental groups would appreciate it if you would watch what the company does as well as what its charismatic leader says, then compare the two. According to many of them, Rogers is little more than a green washer in a suit.

From a recent 60 Minutes interview:

Rogers is the CEO of Duke Energy, the nation's third largest electric utility. His stacks pump 100 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, which makes what comes out of Rogers' mouth so surprising.

"Controlling carbon emissions in the near future is inevitable in your view. This is going to happen," Pelley remarked.

"It’s inevitable in my judgment," Rogers agreed.

"You're one of the biggest polluters in the world when it comes to carbon emissions," Pelley pointed out.

"We're one of the largest emitters. And it tells you how daunting the challenge is that we have in front of us," Rogers replied.

"You know, there are a lot of people many of them in your industry may who you probably know who say that global warming is not a big problem," Pelley said.

"It's my judgment it is a problem," Rogers said. "We need to go to work on it now. And it's critical that we start to act in this country."

Like a reformed tobacco executive, Rogers says we can't survive the emissions his industry creates.

Here's Mr. Rogers at a recent environmental forum:

In related news: Obama announces $3.4 billion for 'smart grid'

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