CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Duke Energy's ongoing clean energy transformation and intense focus on customers are driving the company's success and growth, and will continue to do so well into the future, Chair, President and CEO Lynn Good told investors during the company's annual shareholders meeting today.
In 2020, "we made progress toward our carbon reduction targets as we look to deliver at least a 50 percent reduction by 2030, with the ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050," Good said. "We achieved a major milestone in 2020, surpassing 40 percent carbon reduction from 2005 levels, and introduced a net-zero methane target for 2030."
Duke Energy announced more than 700 megawatts of new solar and wind energy projects in 2020, and continued to invest in modernization of the company's electric grid to increase service reliability and support clean energy technologies, she said.
She also highlighted the company's 2020 electric vehicle initiatives, including investments in new customer charging infrastructure in multiple states - plus a new pledge to electrify 100 percent of the company's own light-duty vehicles, and convert 50 percent of its medium-duty, heavy-duty and off-road vehicles to electric or other zero-carbon vehicles.
Overcoming pandemic challenges
Despite the pandemic and associated challenges, Duke Energy in 2020 continued to safely and reliably provide essential electric and natural gas service to its customers, Good said.
"Our priorities were very clear: take care of our customers and protect the health and safety of our employees. We were one of the first utilities to proactively waive certain fees and suspend disconnections for customers who were unable to pay their bills," she said.
"We also transitioned approximately 18,000 employees to remote work and put protocols in place to keep our frontline employees safe. Our workforce showed incredible resolve as they adjusted to new working conditions, maintaining our industry-leading safety results," Good said.
As the pandemic disrupted financial markets, Duke Energy also took immediate action to ensure the company's financial stability through low-cost loans and an aggressive, $450-million mitigation plan, she said.
"This response allowed us to deliver financial results within our updated guidance range for 2020, and continue paying our dividend, which we have now done for 95 consecutive years.
"But what matters most is our customers. In 2020, I'm proud that we surpassed our internal customer satisfaction target by nearly 15 percent," she said.
Good also highlighted several 2021 milestones - resulting from productive collaboration with stakeholders - that have enabled the company to continue its momentum:
- Coal ash settlement in North Carolina - "We reached a milestone settlement with the North Carolina Attorney General's office, the Public Staff and the Sierra Club regarding coal ash recovery - resolving the last remaining major issues on coal ash in North Carolina, and providing clarity for customers and investors. And last month, the North Carolina Utilities Commission approved our settlement as part of our two rate cases."
- Florida rate settlement - "The Florida Public Service Commission approved our settlement with consumer and business groups on a new multiyear rate plan to recover investments in our grid, solar generation and electric vehicle infrastructure."
- Other Florida initiatives - "We also received approval of the first three years of our Storm Protection Plans in Florida, representing a $6-billion investment to harden our grid over the next 10 years, and our Clean Energy Connection program that will provide Florida customers with 750 MW of new solar by 2024. Duke Energy Florida remains a valuable part of our company, and with its constructive business and regulatory environment, we're excited to advance our clean energy vision for the state."
- Minority investment in Duke Energy Indiana - "We announced a minority investment in Duke Energy Indiana from GIC, an experienced investor in U.S. infrastructure, that will help fund our clean energy investments and grid enhancement plans, replacing the need for equity over the next five years."
- Customer initiatives - "We began to roll out Customer Connect, our new customer information system, as we bring new services and enhancements to our customers."
Other shareholder business
Also at today's meeting:
- Good fielded shareholder questions on a range of topics. The company also will post responses to shareholder questions on its website.
- Shareholders elected all 13 nominees to the company's board of directors, including three new board members: Caroline Dorsa - Retired executive vice president and chief financial officer, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. W. Roy Dunbar - Retired Chairman and CEO of Network Solutions, LLC. Michael Pacilio - Retired executive vice president and chief operating officer, Exelon Generation, Exelon Corp.
- A nonbinding shareholder proposal - titled, "Shareholder proposal regarding independent board chair" - did not receive a majority of shareholder votes cast.
- A second nonbinding shareholder proposal - titled, "Shareholder proposal regarding providing a semiannual report on Duke Energy's political contributions and expenditures" - received a majority of shareholder votes cast.
A replay of the meeting will be posted on Duke Energy's investors page.
Duke Energy (DUK) - Get Report, a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America's largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.
Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities - with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to operate or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage, and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune's 2021 "World's Most Admired Companies" list and Forbes' "America's Best Employers" list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. 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 800.559.3853
SOURCE Duke Energy