Former Temp CEO Rebuts Allegations of Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers

Bill Johnson photoAs the North Carolina Utilities Commission tries to make sense of the farcical events that surround its approval of the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the largest public electricity company in the nation, the deeper they dig, the dumber Duke looks.

Yesterday the 6-member panel (one seat is unfilled due to political wrangling) heard from former Progress CEO Bill Johnson (pictured). Throughout the 18-month merger process the two companies proclaimed to anyone who cared – including federal regulators, utilities commissions in at least six states, and Wall Street – that Johnson would carry that role over to the combined company, while former Duke CEO James Rogers would elevate to chairman.

Instead, according to Johnson’s testimony, within two hours after directors from both companies offered “handshakes, pats on the back, congratulations all around,” he was jettisoned and replaced by Rogers. The hearings were covered by most of …

Jim Rogers’s Power Grab Underscores Politicization of Duke Energy

Jim Rogers and windmill photoAfter a lengthy process that overcame a demanding review at the North Carolina Utilities Commission and two rejections by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Duke Energy won approval to merge with the Tar Heel State’s other major investor-owned utility, Progress Energy.

Then Duke’s board immediately pulled a fast one and fired the man they said all along would be the joint entity’s CEO, Bill Johnson, who would have continued from the same role he had with Progress. Instead leading the new combined company will be Duke’s current CEO, James Rogers. Throughout the merger approval process everyone understood he would abdicate that role to Johnson while remaining as company chairman.

The NCUC and state attorney general, Roy Cooper, were shocked by the move and are not pleased. Even less happy are many (now) former directors for Progress, who told the media last week that they never …

Did DOE Rush to Give Away Stimulus Compromise National Security?

The hurry to take advantage of funds appropriated through the Recovery Act for “shovel ready” projects impelled the federal agencies – especially the Department of Energy – to hastily allocate the money, and as a result taxpayer money flowed to projects marred by fraud, corruption, poor workmanship, failing companies, and crony corporate socialism.

And now DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman has discovered the rush to distribute stimulus money may have compromised national security. In an audit report of the department’s management of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, which received $3.5 billion to modernize and improve the reliability of the U.S. power grid, the IG found that grant recipients’ plans to prevent “malicious cyber attacks” were often inadequate.

“In our review of security plans,” the report said, “we noted that the plans did not always include sufficient information related to risk assessments and/or other important elements, and, that …

FERC Flunks Duke Energy-Progress Energy Merger Proposal, Again

white Coke can

Fresh from its latest payoff of environoia groups in exchange for their support of their merger, Duke Energy and Progress Energy must return to the drawing board after the second rejection of their proposal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

It’s a story of two Davids against a Goliath, and no, it’s not the utilities against the big bad government regulator. Rather, two small eastern North Carolina cities – Rocky (“Gonna Fly Now”) Mount and New Bern – convinced FERC that the merger plan would harm their ability to purchase electricity in a competitive environment. Both municipalities deliver power to their residents through a cooperative of cities and towns in eastern North Carolina, but dissented from their fellow members’ approval of the merger. Coastal New Bern has been led by Mayor Lee Bettis Jr., a former New York Mafiosi defense lawyer, who has vowed to “go it alone the …

Duke Energy Caves In to Pressure Groups’ Demands

Rogers photoIn yet another ploy to overcome opposition to their merger, Duke Energy and Progress Energy agreed with environmental groups last week to a few million more dollars in payoffs for “clean” energy schemes, and to implement energy efficiency programs that would reduce customers’ electricity use by seven percent of retail sales by 2018.

The deal has been planned for months, and when approved by state and federal regulators, will create the largest investor-owned electric utility in the nation. Combined the companies serve residents and businesses in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Southern Environmental Law Center all intervened in the hearings before the North Carolina and South Carolina utility regulatory commissions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also must approve the deal.

NLPC reported in September that the environmental pressure groups – whose calling cards are …

Duke’s Rogers: Wind Subsidies Yield Big Profits

Rogers and windmill photoSay what you want about Duke Energy and the often-injudicious CEO James Rogers, but at least he is focused on his company’s profitability and the interests of shareholders.

Last week he composed an op-ed for The News & Observer of Raleigh in which he praised Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Sen. John McCain for their introduction of the Foreign Earnings Reinvestment Act. The bill would give American companies a “holiday” from the 35 percent U.S. corporate income tax, enabling businesses to – as James Valvo of Americans for Prosperity explained – invest in capital and R&D, hire and train employees, and pay dividends to shareholders.

“Duke Energy alone has $1.2 billion held hostage overseas by a tax system that penalizes U.S. businesses that want to bring their foreign earnings to America to create jobs,” Rogers wrote. “With the right changes to our tax laws, we can bring that …

FERC Says Merger Would Further Entrench Duke Energy Monopoly

Jim Rogers photoThe merger hearings for Duke Energy and Progress Energy before the North Carolina Utilities Commission were supposed to be the last major hurdle for the deal to be approved, but now the concerns of a small coastal city and a federal government regulatory agency have cast last-minute doubts. It turns out the demands by environmental groups for Duke to pay more money into weatherization boondoggles were minor irritants compared to the threat posed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

As The News & Observer of Raleigh reported last week, FERC informed the North Carolina-based utilities that in order to win its approval, extensive changes need to be made to the deal, since the proposed plan would “have an adverse effect on competition” in the Southeast, with the agency characterizing the deal’s problems as “systematic” and “severe.”

Duke and Progress officials made the FERC decision sound like it was no biggy, …

Witness Intimidation on Cap-and-Trade

Markey PhotoCongressional advocates of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill employed bribery to build support for this legislation when they co-opted several corporations by giving them free carbon dioxide emission credits. However, many businesses are still balking at lending support to a bill that will impose a crushing energy tax on the American people and cost the economy trillions of dollars. Since bribery didn’t work with these recalcitrant companies, Waxman-Markey supporters are trying intimidation.

On June 9, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to hear testimony on the Waxman-Markey bill, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would increase the cost of emitting carbon dioxide through an onerous cap on emissions. One of the witnesses was David Sokol, CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. Sokol criticized the Waxman-Markey bill because it would result in higher electricity rates for his customers. …