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Friday
May072010

Reversal of Fortune: CEOs Now Take Flak from Right, Not Left, at Shareholder Meetings

From Thursday's Charlotte Business Journal, a piece by John Downey:

After four years of criticism from anti-coal groups at Duke Energy Corp.'s annual meetings, Chief Executive Jim Rogers ran into flak Thursday in Charlotte from pro-coal forces that object to the company's support for carbon regulation.

Tom Borelli of the National Center for Public Policy Research presented a shareholder proposal at this year's meeting that would force Duke to account for all its lobbying efforts in support of federal cap-and-trade programs to control carbon dioxide emissions.

The proposal was defeated. But even after the vote, Borelli and his wife, Deneen, peppered Rogers with questions and criticism about Duke's position.

And the FreedomWorks organization had picketers outside the meeting at the Duke Energy Center on Church Street, protesting carbon regulation. That group also protested outside the Charlotte Chamber's Business Person of the Year event last year, when Rogers received that award.

Joyce Kraewic of Kernersville, spokeswoman for FreedomWorks, said her group believes carbon regulation would end up costing 2 million jobs at a time when the country is struggling economically.

At the shareholder meeting, Tom Borelli said Rogers had set Charlotte-based Duke on "a risky course" that would raise electricity prices and ultimately hurt its stockholders. He argued that Duke had made a deal to support legislation in return for free carbon allowances that would let the company and other utilities emit carbon for a few years.

Creating a market in carbon would open the power industry to the kind of problems that plagued financial companies in the derivative markets, Borelli said. "You are inflating a green bubble ... betting on carbon dioxide," he said. He called the position a "lose-lose for shareholders."

Deneen Borelli asked Rogers the value of the free allowances Duke might get.

Rogers said an accurate amount could not be calculated...

Downey reports that no environmental organizations attended the meeting.

Read the rest here.

P.S. "Pro-coal"?

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