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Duke CEO calls for ‘purpose-driven’ capitalism

Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers today called for “purpose-driven” capitalism, saying said North Carolina’s biggest competition is global.

“Our greatest competition isn’t inside North Carolina,” Roger said at a meeting of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce in Durham. “Our biggest competitors aren’t the companies and states in the South, or the East or West coasts. Our competition is global, and that’s true whether you’re selling pork, or loan portfolios, or even kilowatt hours.

“The change begins with us: North Carolina and American businesses. The only way to get our mojo back as a country is through innovation, drive and creativity, and that’s what purpose-driven capitalism can do.”

Purpose-driven capitalism is really an “old idea in a new suit,” he said. “It’s the recognition that business has a role to play in society beyond simply driving shareholder returns. Business serves a wide array of stakeholders, from customers and employees to business partners, the government and our communities. And I believe the true value of a business can only be measured in relation to its impact on its wide array of stakeholders, not just earnings per share.”

Rogers also called for new nuclear power.

“As we wait for Washington to break its gridlock and deflate its deficit bubble, we need to continue to modernize our power infrastructure and build more efficient sources of generation,” he said. “We need to innovate and push ahead, and one of the keys to moving forward is new nuclear power.”

New nuclear power is the only source of carbon-free, base-load power, he said.

“Nuclear is expensive in the short term but actually low-cost in the long term,” he said. “We know this well in the Carolinas because nuclear provides half of our generation. It’s a large part of the reason why our electricity rates are so much lower than the national average.”

Rogers also discussed the planned merger between Duke and Raleigh-based Progress Energy.

“Our merger with Progress Energy will help make the construction of new nuclear generation possible, because our combined company will have a stronger balance sheet with more diverse earnings,” he said. “This is important in order to access the large amounts of capital needed to build new nuclear plants.

“Bigger is not always better. But what our merger does is combine the talents of two great North Carolina companies so we can lead the nation into a lower-carbon, more efficient energy future.”

The merger, he said, makes financial sense.

“By combining our operations we will be able to save our customers $600 (million) to $800 million in fuel costs in the Carolinas over the next five years,” he said.

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