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04/12/2008 12:15 PM
James Rogers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke Energy

Description: After 20"plus years in the utility industry, James Rogers is emphatic that we must "build a bridge to a low carbon world." He confesses to a missionary zeal around clean energy, and to the fact that he must reinvent his business, Duke Energy.

Rogers invokes 3, 12 and 41 as the key numbers defining his challenge: Duke, with four million customers in five states, is the third largest emitter of CO2 among U.S. companies, the 12th largest corporate emitter in the world, and, 41st among nations if the firm were a country.

Rogers conceives of the challenge in terms he calls "cathedral thinking." Just as it took three generations to design and build Notre Dame, so will it take decades to resolve the carbon issue. "It took us 100 years to get here, and will take a while to get out of this. We need a sense of urgency, but not a sense of panica sense of hope, not a sense of fear. "

He names "two aspirations for the company." The first involves modernizing and de"carbonizing the power supply, which he thinks can be accomplished if carbon capture and the next generation of nuclear technology prove themselves. The second aspiration is to maximize energy efficiency, even as demand for electricity rises.

Reducing greenhouse emissions will mean getting politicians to back an economy wide cap and trade on CO2, with "allowances to help make the transition for those dependent on coal." 25 states get more than 50% of their electricity from coal, Rogers reminds us. A consumer revolt might prevent meaningful laws from passing. While pursuing mitigation, we must also struggle with adaptation. Rogers detects great difficulty getting our politicians to aid places like Bangladesh that will most suffer from warming. Above all, the U.S. must start funding technology R&D. Rogers despairs of politicians responsibly dispersing R&D dollars, so he recommends a national trust fund to focus such spending.

As a firm believer in incentives, Rogers would like to reward utilities for saving watts. He says "energy efficiency is one of the five ways you generate electricity -- it should be treated as a production option." Duke Energy is attempting to achieve efficiencies by modernizing coal plants, and hopes to find software to optimize and streamline its operations as well. While customers and investors routinely evaluate Rogers' performance, he most cares about his family's judgment in the future. "At the end of the day, I want my grandchildren to say my granddaddy made the right decision when faced with 3, 12, 41."

About the Speaker(s): James Rogers has nearly 20 years of experience as a chief executive officer in the electric utility industry. He was named president and chief executive officer of Duke Energy following the merger of Duke Energy and Cinergy in April 2006.

Rogers has served as deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement for the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC); executive vice president of interstate pipelines for the Enron Gas Pipeline Group; and as a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Prior to those appointments, he served as assistant to the chief trial counsel at FERC; as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Kentucky; and as assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where he acted as intervener on behalf of state consumers in gas, electric and telephone rate cases. He was also a reporter for the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald"Leader.

Rogers attended Emory University and earned a bachelor of business administration and a J.D. from the University of Kentucky.

Host(s): Dean for Student Life, The MIT Energy Conference

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MIT World — special events and lectures

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