Carbon Emissions: A View from Duke Energy

Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, is one of ten corporate leaders who have been talking to U.S. policymakers about creating regulation to reduce greenhouse gases.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

He mentioned that 10 major U.S. companies are also pushing the idea of carbon caps. One of them is Duke Energy, one of the largest power companies in the country. Its CEO Jim Rogers joined us in the studio to talk about why he's taking action.

Mr. JAMES ROGERS (President and CEO, Duke Energy): We're looking out and developing a timeline in trying to limit the emissions at a certain level over 10, 20, and 30 years. And over time, it will lead to the reversal of the emissions level.

MONTAGNE: Now your plants at Duke Energy, they burn what - coal, oil?

Mr. ROGERS: Ninety-eight percent of the electricity that we provide comes from coal and nuclear.

MONTAGNE: Reducing emissions is going to cost money, the various things that have to be done, some of them quite big projects as far as plants go. What is that money going to come out of? Profits, or is it that customers will carry the burden?

Mr. ROGERS: The caps will translate into higher cost for our consumers. It requires significant investment and research development and deployment of new technologies. The money for this is going to come from the government. It will come from the industry. It is critical that we bring even more money in to develop this technology if we're going to hit - be able to achieve the aggressive reduction goals that we have set out for ourselves.

We're in the beginning of a building cycle where we have to build base-low coal, nuclear and gas plants. It's important that, as we plan, when we build our power plant, that plant will be around for 50 years. So if we're going to build a coal plant, which has significant emissions, we want to make sure we've designed the plant in a way that is capable of connecting a CO2 scrubber-type technology to the unit so we can get reductions of CO2.

MONTAGNE: Do you still see using coal in 50 years?

Mr. ROGERS: Today, 50 percent of our electricity comes from coal. We have a 250-year supply. But its success in the future and our use of coal is dependent on the ability to create technologies that allow us to take the CO2 out.

MONTAGNE: Do you have 10 or 20 years to wait for this technology and to delay really strict caps on emissions?

Mr. ROGERS: I would have never agreed to the cap proposal, where the caps are very tough, very soon, if I didn't believe we have the capability to hit those targets.

MONTAGNE: Jim Rogers is the CEO of Duke Energy.

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