CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers made good on a promise, meeting behind closed doors for two hours at the Sheraton Airport with disgruntled shareholders and environmentalists who wanted faster progress toward clean energy.
They emerged "disappointed."
Included in the group was fifth grader Anna Behnke, whose family lives on Mountain Island Lake near the Riverbend Steam Station, one of Duke Energy's oldest and dirtiest coal-fired plants.
"I don't get why they don't shut it down right now because they never use it," Behnke said.
With relatively low natural gas prices, Duke turns to hydro, gas and nuclear before it kicks on coal-fired power plants.
But the utility has been reluctant to close even the dirtiest plants, saying it needs the reserve power for peak loads during extremely hot or cold days.
"Let me tell you on Friday when it's 100 degrees, Riverbend will be running," said Duke Energy spokesman Tom Williams. "It'll be running because people are going to be hot. They're going to be needing their air conditioning."
Duke has committed to shut down Riverbend and other older coal-fired plants by 2015, but not before.
The utility is on track to merge with Raleigh-based Progress Energy, creating the nation's largest electrical utility and the second largest private utility in the world.