Obama's Second Term: Jim Rogers at the Energy Department?

Duke CEO says focus is on merger

Wayne Barber | Nov 08, 2012

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Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) CEO Jim Rogers is “flattered” to hear of published speculation that he is among candidates to succeed Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a second Obama administration, but is not expecting to take that “lower paying job.”

Rogers made the comments in response to a financial analyst’s question during Duke’s Nov. 8 quarterly earnings call.

Rogers said he planned to stay with Duke and shepherd it through a thicket of issues in the wake of the July merger with Progress Energy. The post-merger issues include resolving an investigation by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

“Since 1990 people have been trying to promote me out of this job to the government,” Rogers said. The Duke CEO said he has plenty of work left to do at Duke.

“I am flattered that they would consider me … for this lower-paying job,” Rogers said.

Prior to the July merger, Duke had said publicly that Rogers would give up the CEO post and its emphasis on daily operations, in favor of becoming executive chairman. Then-Progress CEO Bill Johnson was to become CEO of the merged company.

But the Duke board evidently soured on Johnson and forced him to resign immediately following the merger. The Duke board had Rogers step back in as CEO. Johnson recently was named to head the Tennessee Valley Authority effective in January 2013.

The last-minute CEO switch caught the NCUC off-guard and prompted the commission to launch an investigation of the merger.

Rogers was reportedly influential in luring the 2012 Democratic National Convention to Charlotte, N.C., where Duke is based. Rogers had said that, prior to stepping back in as CEO of the combined company, he had been looking at serving on a number of boards.

As for Chu, there is speculation that he would leave the Department of Energy post during the second term.

Rogers would certainly have the stripes to win credibility among the utility community, and he is also well-liked among environmentalists. But Duke’s sizable coal portfolio in combination with its messed-up, and high-profile, merger with Progress Energy may preclude any government position for now. 

 

Wayne Barber is chief of generation for GenerationHub, a unit of Energy Central.

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