Regional Report Charlotte August 2013
Duke Energy puts itself in Good’s hands
On July 1, Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers handed the utility’s reins to Lynn Good, its chief financial officer. We’re betting she serves longer than the last person who replaced Rogers. Good, 54, became the first female CEO of the Charlotte-based company 364 days after its merger with Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc., whose CEO, Bill Johnson, succeeded Rogers. But the board booted him only hours after the deal closed and brought Rogers back, angering the N.C. Utilities Commission. To soothe the agency’s ire, Rogers agreed to retire by the end of this year. Good is no stranger to controversy. She spent most of her career at Chicago-based Arthur Andersen LLP until the Enron scandal torpedoed the accounting firm. Good, based in Cincinnati, never worked that account, but its collateral damage put her on course to lead the largest utility in the U.S. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
How did you get the job?
The board started looking at the beginning of the year. With Jim Rogers’ contract expiring at the end of 2013, it was a natural progression.
Waiting six months to find out had to be nerve-racking.
I don’t know if nerve-racking is the term I would use. But it does create a little stress.
When did you find out that the job was yours?
Just a few days before it was announced in mid-June.
How do you respond to critics who say Duke should’ve gone with an outside hire?
When the merger with Progress closed in July 2012, we had some near-term priorities: getting our Edwardsport power plant in Indiana online, a resolution for the Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida, nuclear performance. And the company has made extraordinary progress on all of those things. I think the board was looking for someone who could keep that momentum going.
What are your goals?
The industry that we operate in has low load growth, advancing technologies, changes in customer demographics, public policy that’s affecting coal and incentivizing other forms of generation. So figuring out how to embrace those changes is what we’re talking about.
How do you do that?
It could be accelerating investment in renewables, it could be working on our cost structure to continue to operate more efficiently. It’s going to be a combination of things.
Are you going to differ from Rogers?
Jim, having been a CEO for 25 years, has an extraordinary presence in the industry. I’ll be more internally focused in the transition.
What are you nervous about?
You have a lot of butterflies when you take a new position. It’s that getting up to speed, understanding the full scope of the responsibilities, but it’s also excitement about the opportunities.
What did you learn from Enron?
Andersen was impacted in March 2002. By early May, I was at Deloitte. Every thing I had worked for was gone. That changes you a little bit. I ultimately left Deloitte, a great firm that I have a great deal of respect for, but I was ready to transition out of public accounting.
Why the energy industry?
I worked with Cinergy in the 1990s and knew the leadership team there. They did not see me as an Andersen partner; they saw me as a businessperson who they had worked with and had respect for. It felt like a good step to establish myself and then a new track to run on.
ALBEMARLE — Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System will acquire Stanly Health Services on Oct. 1. Carolinas HealthCare, which has managed Stanly since 2009, will invest $70 million in improvements over 12 years, including possible projects such as an expanded emergency department, improved patient rooms and a new urgent-care center.