Rogers Staying in Energy Game for Next Five Years

Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers has spent 20-plus years as a CEO in the energy industry (starting with PSI Energy in Plainfield in 1988). And despite his wife’s reaction of "what the heck were you thinking?," he acknowledged today at the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Conference on Energy Management that he’s signed up for five more years.

"I love this industry," he told the conference attendees. And while he has seen many changes in his career, he adds, "The next five years are going to be more transformative for our industry than the last 20 have been."

Rogers shared 10 facts about the current and future energy outlook before answering numerous questions. Among his revelations:

  • By 2050, Duke will have to retire or replace virtually every power plant it is operating today
  • The company is the third largest generator of both coal and nuclear energy. It is currently building new coal and natural gas facilities, has two nuclear proposals being reviewed and is also active in various areas of renewables
  • While there will always be skeptics, he says the majority of scientists have spoken in favor of climate change and that he is a believer

Rogers thinks that the cap and trade legislation that passed the House earlier in the summer "will be improved by the Senate to minimize the cost impact to consumers. The transition, however, is not going to be free, not going to be easy and not going to be quick. It will take decades to make the transition, but we have to get to work on it now. Our mission has changed. We have to modernize and decarbonize our fleet to help our communities become the most energy efficient in the world."

Rogers’ take on three other issues:

  • China: "They’re moving fast. The reality is that China gets it. They’re the number one producer of solar panels; number one producer of wind turbines. They have 14 nuclear plants under construction. That’s why we’re partnering with them. We want to move at China time."
  • Industry employment: "Real jobs are going to be created if we rebuild the nuclear industry in the United States. There are no such things as green jobs; every job is a green job. It’s all about improving productivity and becoming more efficient. Let’s quit trying to draw lines."
  • Smart grid and energy efficiency: "I believe this will turn out to be the greatest enabler, and I can’t even envision today what it will enable." He explains that while Duke and other companies are currently focused on generation of power to the meter, the future includes writing software for specific energy uses. "Our energy efficiency will be driven by technology. The same way you throw the switch today and the lights come on, you will throw the switch and it will optimize your use of energy. The boundaries of our business are being fundamentally redrawn."

Jim Rogers Bringing Energy Philosophy Back to Indiana

So what has Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy, been up to in recent months?

  • Appearing on "60 Minutes" to support cap and trade, while also discussing on the show the necessity of carbon capture and sequestration of coal
  • Talking to the top players in China’s power industry about partnering on clean energy technologies
  • Being named the 2009 Citizen of the Carolinas by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce (some of the past winners: Rev. Billy Graham, Dean Smith, Michael Jordan and Ben Bernanke)

Rogers "comes home" to Indiana on September 2 as the keynote speaker for the Indiana Conference on Energy Management. Rogers came to Plainfield-based PSI Energy in 1988 as chairman, president and CEO. Mergers led to similar roles at Cinergy in Cincinnati and then Duke, one of the nation’s largest energy companies.

“When Jim Rogers arrived at PSI Energy  in the late 1980s, he brought a level of enthusiasm and vision that challenged the historically conservative power industry,” declares Vince Griffin, who worked for Rogers at that time and is now the Indiana Chamber vice president of environmental and energy policy. “This is unquestionably a challenging time for the electric power industry. Jim Rogers will undoubtedly bring his passion and perspective to this energy conference."

Duke Energy is also looking at its Edwardsport, Indiana facility as a pilot project for the future with its investment in a 630-megawatt IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) facility.

Duke Energy-Indiana Ties Run Deep

Jim Rogers’ road to the head of Duke Energy and leadership both within his industry and the U.S. business community began, in one sense, in Indiana. 

Who knew in 1988 when he joined Plainfield-based PSI Energy as chairman, president and CEO that PSI would merge with Cinergy (putting Rogers in a similar role out of Cincinnati from 1995-2006) and that the Cinergy-Duke marriage three years ago would elevate him to the leadership position he currently holds.

Rogers made an impact and left an impression in the Hoosier state. He served on the boards of directors of several leading corporations (Indiana National Bank and Duke Realty among them) and earned honorary doctorate degrees from Indiana State University (law) and Marian College (now Marian University) in business administration.

“When Jim Rogers arrived at PSI Energy  in the late 1980s, he brought a level of enthusiasm and vision that challenged the historically conservative power industry,” declares Vince Griffin, who worked for Rogers at that time and is now the Indiana Chamber vice president of environmental and energy policy. “This is unquestionably a challenging time for the electric power industry.”

Duke Energy is also looking at its Edwardsport, Indiana facility as a pilot project for the future with its investment in a 630-megawatt IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) facility.

Indiana takes center stage in the energy debate on September 2 with the Indiana Conference on Energy Management. The Duke Energy view, and undoubtedly a heavy dose of Rogers’ philosophy, will be featured in the keynote address from Jim Turner, the company’s second in command and leader of U.S. franchised electric and gas operations.