Duke Energy standing by customers, employees during pandemic; company also moving toward greener future, CEO tells shareholders

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy’s purpose has never been more important than it is right now, Chair, President and CEO Lynn Good told investors during the company’s annual shareholders meeting online today.

“This pandemic is unlike anything we’ve experienced – and it’s required us to dramatically adjust how we operate. Yet, our purpose has never been more important. We provide an essential service, powering the lives of our customers and the vitality of our communities, no matter the circumstances,” Good said.

“I’m proud to say that our company continues to maintain reliable electric and natural gas service” during the pandemic, she said.

“Like all of you, I want to extend my thanks to our health care workers, first responders and others on the front lines. They’re true heroes for how they’ve cared for those afflicted with the virus,” she said.

As Duke Energy continues to provide dependable power to support their efforts, the company also remains focused on serving its customers and taking care of its employees, Good said.

“We’ve taken significant steps to help keep our team safe, including implementing social distancing measures, performing enhanced cleaning, shifting 18,000 employees to work remotely, staggering staff and shifts, and providing appropriate personal protective equipment,” she said.

Duke Energy took steps early in the pandemic to suspend disconnections of customers’ electric and gas service for non-payment, and to waive various fees for customers.

The Duke Energy Foundation has provided $3 million to support relief efforts.

“We will continue to look for ways to support our customers and communities as they recover from the economic impacts of the virus,” Good said.

2019: ‘A strong year’

Good also provided an overview of the company’s performance last year.

“While 2019 may seem like a distant memory now, I did want to share a business update because it was a strong year for Duke Energy – and I’m so proud of how our employees delivered incredible results,” she said.

“We continued to execute our strategy and made progress transforming how we operate, while meeting our financial targets. We also took steps to strengthen our balance sheet to maintain our credit metrics,” Good said.

Duke Energy’s “long-term strategy to deliver an outstanding customer experience” by investing in the energy grid, cleaner energy and natural gas infrastructure “continues to guide us,” she said.

“Starting with our customers, we made important improvements to provide the personalized service they expect, resulting in a 25 percent increase on our internal customer satisfaction metrics,” Good said.

“We’re also investing to provide better reliability by modernizing our grid. Eighty percent of our customers have smart meters, and our investments saved customers approximately 62 million outage minutes in 2019,” she said.

Greener future

“And as we look ahead, our transition to lower-carbon generating resources is important to our customers. That’s why we recently brought our Asheville combined-cycle natural gas plant online and have more than 8,100 megawatts of wind, solar and biomass on our system – with plans to double that amount by 2025,” Good said.

“We announced plans to renew plant licenses for our carbon-free nuclear fleet, which accounts for nearly half of our generation in the Carolinas and supports our carbon reduction goals.

“And our investments in natural gas infrastructure, including our $300 million Robeson LNG facility and pipeline integrity projects, continue to aid in our transition to a lower-carbon future,” she said.

“In addition, I’m proud of our progress to reduce our carbon emissions. Since 2005, we have reduced our carbon emissions 39 percent – 8 percent in 2019 alone. And in September, we refreshed our climate strategy and now plan to reduce our carbon emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050,” Good said.

“We are taking a thoughtful, disciplined approach to meeting these targets, collaborating with stakeholders in each of our states to turn these goals into reality.”

Other shareholder business

Also at today’s meeting:

  • Good fielded shareholder questions on a range of topics. The company will post responses to questions on its website.
  • Shareholders approved one shareholder proposal: “Shareholder proposal regarding elimination of supermajority voting provisions in Duke Energy’s Certificate of Incorporation.”
  • Shareholders rejected three other shareholder proposals.
  • Shareholders elected all 13 board of director nominees.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 29,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities and 2,300 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve 7.8 million retail electric customers in six states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to 1.6 million customers in five states: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2020 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Neil Nissan