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CEO talks “clean power”

By jimstaro - Posted on 09 March 2011

Talking Energy with America's Greenest Coal Exec


Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers speaks during a panel discussion at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce's Economic Outlook Conference in Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 6, 2010 Jeffrey Camarati / Bloomberg / Getty Images>

Mar. 02, 2011 - Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, a utility company based in Charlotte, N.C., is a wild card in the electricity sector. His company supplies 35,000 megawatts of power to consumers in the Southeast and Midwest, most of it through coal or nuclear, making him one of the biggest carbon emitters in the country. Yet it was Rogers who emerged as a key corporate player in the attempt to build a grand alliance for a carbon-cap-and-trade bill between 2008 and 2010. In "The Climate War", his book on the legislative battle, the journalist (and former TIME editor) Eric Pooley ably described Rogers not only as a "silver-tongued devil" who could "talk the down off a duckling," but also as the only man who could have gotten corporate America on board for a climate bill.



"There's a vacuum of public policy now," Rogers told me in an interview in New York City on Monday. "There's a lot of uncertainty in regards to environmental regulation, period."



Ending that uncertainty is why Rogers — unusual for a coal-heavy utility chief — was in favor of cap and trade in the first place. He sees his industry going through a fundamental transformation as it moves from the 20th century to the 21st century, both for climate reasons and because of concerns over traditional air pollution. "In the 20th century, the goal was universal access to electricity," he says. "In the 21st century it will be about modernization, and by 2050 all our existing plants but hydro" may be closed down or changed because of environmental regulations.



"Just a sliver of our national budget goes to research," he says. "If we can't get a consensus on carbon policy, let's put the money into research and let's drive down the cost of solar and wind and make them competitive. Think about how much it would change the debate if solar and wind were as cheap as coal?"

Rogers is echoing a line that's coming from the White House itself, along with a number of energy researchers and writers. If you can't get the politics together for a hard carbon cap — and given the makeup of the U.S. Senate, with the disproportionate power of some coal states, that might never happen — the next best thing is to ramp up our spending on government energy R&D. {continued}

The highlighted section above is what we once were extremely good at, not just in R&D but throughout our business and workforce with the innovative minds of many added to the innovative business minds who far out numbered the greedy, building small businesses into corporations with everyone moving forward with their combined labors. That started changing back in the late 70's, slowly at first, then in the 80's moving more rapidly. Business practices went bottom line, business execs became famous and even worshiped as the best of the best for buying up successful or growing small businesses adding them to the business stables they were growing stripping them down to squeeze out profit throwing everything else out.

Others, especially as to the innovative energy needs and a greener planet, are rapidly taking that lead, they now even have what we once did, innovative work forces with their experiences growing, we lost much of that long ago. In most cases we're not even following except for the few who are investing there and not here.

Bottom line, they're economies are growing and advancing, what we once were envied by them for, ours is quickly disintegrating, just look around.


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