Commonwealth National Podcast

Jim Rogers: Duke of Energy (4/5/11)

Duration: 
1:06:23

Duke of Energy

 

Jim Rogers, Chairman and CEO, Duke Energy

 

Outside of the Oval Office, one of the most influential voices in the energy debate is Jim Rogers, Chairman and CEO of Duke Energy. Here Rogers talks about the future of energy policy in the United States in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Rogers says Duke Energy will continue to pursue new nuclear power, despite movements by some governments to rethink their nuclear strategy. “With respect to Japan,” he says, “we will pause. We will learn. And that will make us stronger and better in the future.” Rogers emphasizes the safety record of US nuclear plants and the fact that nuclear plants supply 70% of America’s carbon-free electricity. “If you’re serious about climate legislation, you have to be serious about nuclear because of the role it plays in providing zero greenhouse gases, 24/7,” he says. Rogers emphasizes that Duke Energy is investing in advanced coal, solar, wind, and energy efficiency, in addition to nuclear. “From an investor’s perspective, and from our customers’ perspective, developing a portfolio is a smarter way to move forward than making a bet on any single fuel,” he says. Even though today’s Congress appears incapable of tackling climate change, Rogers says he is making decisions now in anticipation of the day a future Congress acts to limit carbon. A critical first step is junking old, dirty coal plants. Rogers notes that the United States electricity mix includes 300,000 megawatts (MW) of coal; 100,000MW comes from plants more than 40 years old and never retrofitted to remove sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, or mercury. “In my judgment those plants should be shut down, and will be shut down over the next decade,” Rogers says. Many of those obsolete coal plants will be pushed into retirement when greenhouse gas rules being drafted by the US Environmental Protection Agency come into force. Rogers prefers that Congress, not the EPA, show companies the way forward. “My hope, and the reason I don’t oppose [the EPA] doing it, is they act, and you see their rules – very limited because the Clean Air Act wasn’t written to do this. It will become obvious that Congress has to act. And maybe it will force Congress to do its job,” he says.

 

This program was recorded in front of a live audience at the Commonwealth Club of California, San Francisco on April 5th, 2011

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