Duke Energy President: Stephen De May

It’s easy to take the power company for granted – until the lights go out. Then, we all scramble frantically for the telephone, demanding to know when power will be restored, as if the poor souls who answer the phones could simply flip a switch so we could get back to business as usual!  

Mr. De May was introduced by Indira Everett

If it were only so simple. North Carolina President of Duke Energy Stephen De May emphasized to the club in Monday’s program that the energy business is a complex and highly-regulated industry. The company serves approximately 3.4 million electric customers and 746,000 natural gas customers, and he takes that responsibility very seriously.  

“Our primary focus is continuing to deliver affordable power both reliably and in a cleaner, socially responsible fashion,” De May said, noting that no one likes to hear about rate increases but it’s the only way the company can recover its ongoing costs. He stressed three themes that underlie the company’s recent investments 

  1. Continuing to invest in infrastructure, particularly in transforming to digital operations, which improves the customer experience by giving residents more control and a better understanding of energy usage. More than 200,000 “smart meters” have been installed in Durham County alone; De May notes that the current grid is decades old, and tha“improvement and modernization are needed for the backbone of our system.” 
  1. Actively moving past coal-burning plants by converting old ones to burn natural gas, disposing of coal ash in a lawful and responsible fashioncontinuing nuclear power options, and expanding solar capacity in North Carolina. Duke Energy is the largest nuclear operator in the United States, and its entire fleet is in the Carolinas.  
  1. Focusing on the needs of low-income customers with policies such as eliminating credit card charges, not increasing basic facilities charges, and encouraging higher income customers to “round up” their bills with the credit balance going to those in need.  

“Energy efficiency is critical,” De May states, pointing out a sort of an oxymoron common to the industry: if we consume less, there’s more room to grow. He praised both Durham and the state of North Carolina for setting aggressive emissions reduction targets, and discussed Duke Energy’s recently updated climate goals to reduce carbon emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He closed his remarks by underscoring the importance of teamwork: “The engagement of all stakeholders, policy makers, and customers is critical to our success.” 

De May was introduced by Rotarian Indira Everrett. 

 

Submitted by: Carver C. Weaver 

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