Duke Energy CEO On Transition To Low Carbon Economy


The greatest successes in overcoming human-caused environmental problems have come slowly, with collaboration. For example: ozone depleters were not "banned" in a year, they were phased out over decades. Mandates are situational: use of DDT is constrained to nations where malaria is present, and toxicity to birds not in evidence.

In corollary, the climate crisis requires a collaborative decision as to how fast coal must be phased out, and what electricity sources or conservation steps will replace the phased out 'coal-tricity'. Hence it was a pleasure to read Duke Energy's CEO James Rodger's recent speech, in which he advocated energy policies to see the US through a transition period, leading to a low carbon economy. Remarkable all the more, given that 90% of Dukes' energy output is coal-fired.

Rogers delivered a keynote speech at the MIT Energy Conference here on Saturday where he called for policies and technologies to bridge the fossil fuel-based energy industry of today with low-carbon alternatives.
There is a difference between proposing compromise as delaying action and a practical transitional strategy. Rogers seems focused on the latter.

A few of his reported points are excerpted below.

Duke's capital budget to invest in technology and infrastructure is $5 billion this year.

Meanwhile, the total amount of venture capital that went into clean tech start-ups last year was in the range of $3 billion to $4 billion.

Technology research should be funded now without waiting for carbon regulations, which he expects to come into force in 2009 and 2010 followed by a transition period.

...the U.S. federal government is funding research and development in energy at 50 percent of the level it was in the 1970s.

... policy makers need to create the same incentives for energy efficiency as they are for renewable energy, like wind and solar, he argued.

He called for "decarbonizing" the electricity power grid. Once plug-in hybrid vehicles come online, a cleaner power system will effectively address cleaning the transportation sector as well, he said.

[Speaking of carbon limits] "If you have a consumer revolt, one, it will never get passed and secondly, even it does, it gets repealed. So it's very important for us to get that right...

Via::CNet News, "Duke Energy CEO: Coal not going away" Image credit::Brush Cogen Plant, Rebel Ridge Associates