Duke Energy focused on customers, future strategy, CEO tells shareholders

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Duke Energy is focused on its customers and future strategy in a rapidly evolving industry, CEO Lynn Good told investors at the company's annual shareholder meeting.

"Our customers are at the center of everything we do," Good said.

Today, 24 million people depend on Duke Energy for electric service, she said, adding that the company is focused on serving its customers well, day in and day out, while also making the right strategic moves for the future.

Duke Energy is seeking to transform the customer experience by providing customers with more billing options, additional energy usage information and new tools to help manage and reduce energy costs, she said.

The company also is modernizing its electric power grid by installing flexible infrastructure, adding new technology to make power outages increasingly rare and deploying battery storage systems that will play a big part in the nation's energy future, Good said.

In addition, Duke Energy is strongly committed to lower-carbon power generation, she said. The company has invested more than $4 billion in wind and solar facilities in 12 states since 2007.

Both renewable energy and natural gas will play key roles as the company generates cleaner electricity for its customers in the years ahead, Good said.

Duke Energy was instrumental in helping North Carolina achieve the No. 2 national ranking among all states in new solar installations in 2015, and the No. 3 national ranking in total solar capacity.

The company plans to invest an additional $3 billion in renewable energy capacity over the next five years. In addition to more renewable projects in North Carolina, the company is seeking to add renewable generation in South Carolina, Florida and Indiana.

Duke Energy also is investing heavily in natural gas, Good said, citing its ownership stakes in two new natural gas pipelines, proposed acquisition of Piedmont Natural Gas and construction of gas-fired power plants in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida to replace coal-fired plants.

Duke Energy is focused on a balanced, increasingly clean energy mix, she said. That means continuing to retire coal-fired units and making greater use of renewable energy and natural gas, which complement the company's carbon-free nuclear power plants.

"More than 40 percent of the electricity we generated in the Carolinas in 2015 was from carbon-free sources," Good said.

Customer-driven energy efficiency initiatives also will continue to play a major role in Duke Energy's long-term strategy, Good said.

The company recently achieved an energy-saving milestone through its "My Home Energy Report" program, which provides customers with customized energy-usage reports.

Over the past six years, the program helped customers save 1 terawatt-hour of electricity – enough to meet the lighting needs of more than 1 million homes for a year, Good said.

Duke Energy also offers a variety of other energy-efficiency programs to help customers save money.

One example: the company has provided more than 70 million deeply discounted, energy-efficient lighting products to customers since 2009.

Also at the meeting, shareholders elected all 12 board of director nominees, with each receiving at least 95 percent of the votes cast.

Shareholders narrowly approved a non-binding shareholder proposal that seeks to eliminate a supermajority voting requirement in the company's certificate of incorporation, with 53 percent in favor.

Shareholders rejected a second non-binding shareholder proposal that sought additional disclosure about the company's lobbying expenses, with only 29 percent in favor.

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