www.DukeEmployees.com - Duke Energy Employee Advocate
Duke Energy - Page 12
- John H. Mullin III, former Progress director, on the Duke/Progress merger.
Welcome to 2018Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 3, 2018
In 2014, Lynn Good made an exceptional response to the Dan River coal ash spill. Her appearance on 60 Minutes was also perfect. Even so, the coal ash issue has made plenty of headlines in 2017. In fact, only 2 days into 2017, Duke had a temporary berm failure at the Mooresboro plant's coal-ash landfill.
In 2014, Ms. Good did everything right. She did not try to downplay the event or deny responsibility. She offered an apology, said that Duke must do better and said that ratepayers will not have to pay to clean up the Dan River ash spill.
Of course some reporters and others have attempted to twist Ms. Good's coal ash spill comments into a blank check for any coal ash costs for eternity. But her comments only addressed the Dan River spill. Regulators will determine who pays for what on other coal ash issues.
Duke argues that coal ash mitigation is a normal business expense and wants customers to foot the bill. Customers argue that Duke is negligent in ignoring the impending ash problems even after decades of warnings. They want Duke to eat the coal ash costs; some probably want Duke to just eat the coal ash. Duke does have a long history of kicking the can down the road. Given the choice of fixing a problem or ignoring it, Duke will invariably opt to kick the can.
Those living adjacent to Duke Energy coal ash pits have complained of health problems for years. Duke has always denied that the coal ash pits cause any health problems. Duke hired "independent" professors to evaluate the situation. But WBTV exposed that the independent reports were not so independent. WBTV published a detailed article about Duke Energy editing scientific coal ash reports to water them down. Whoever pays for a study always seems to come out on top in any resulting reports.
A NC law requires Duke to connect homes close to ash sites to public water systems or to install filtration systems. Duke is also required to provide alternative drinking water sources until a permanent solution is in place. Duke paid lip service to providing water, but the delivery was botched. There was massive confusion about who would get water and when. Other companies saw the plight of homeowners with tainted wells and started providing free bottled water. Niagara Bottling provided the free water. The water was delivered by Wallace and Graham law firm. Duke finally got its act together and started delivering the bottled water. Duke offered a cash payment to cover water transition costs, but required a waiver of liability to be signed. A class action lawsuit was filed against Duke Energy and Progress in 2017 over "unfair, deceptive and unconscionable" waiver of liability terms.
A Notice of Intent to Sue accused Duke Energy of hiding critical dam safety information in the Coal Ash Disaster Maps. Duke capitulated and provided the required information.
"Free" water is not really free when Duke is involved. Duke now wants customers to pay about $2 million for the water received, even those who received no water. Duke included the charge in its rate request. All these years of endless problems were cause by dumb coal. Just imagine if a significant nuclear incident had been involved!
Duke employees who "jump generators" suffer large exposures to ionizing radiation. At least one such employee has developed leukemia. NHK World reported that four Fukushima workers have been "recognized as eligible for work-related compensation after developing leukemia or thyroid cancer in relation to containment work at the plant."
A Progress employee posted on Glassdoor.com that "Most of the best parts of Progress were lost during the Duke Energy merger." The same can be said for Duke Energy. Mergers are always a great opportunity to raid employee benefits. Shortly after the merger, a Duke employee asked a senior member of management what was going to be done about the disparity in wages between Duke and Progress employees. True to form, the official said Duke was going to "kick the can down the road."
Happy New Year!
Welcome to 2017Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 4, 2017
Lynn Good made Forbes "World's 100 Most Powerful Women" List in 2016.
In 2016 Duke pled guilty to a 2014 Ohio River diesel spill.
Duke Energy agreed to a settlement of $27 million over firing CEO Bill Johnson immediately after the Progress merger.
The coal ash issue continued to grab the most headlines throughout 2016. Norway's $900-billion wealth fund will no longer invest in Duke Energy due to alleged breaches of environmental law. Near the end of 2016, a corrugated metal pipe was found to be leaking into the Catawba River. Duke reached a $1.5 million groundwater contamination settlement with the Southern Environmental Law Center concerning Sutton coal ash pits.
Two coal ash spills into the Neuse River occurred at Duke's H.F. Lee plant. Duke claimed the spills were not coal fly ash but "cenospheres." NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) bought Duke's spin, only to later admit that cenospheres are indeed fly ash, as defined by the Coal Ash Management Act. It was questioned if Duke violated its probation sentence, resulting from a 2015 guilty plea to federal crimes involving coal ash mismanagement.
Duke is contemplating compensating homeowners facing declining property values due to coal ash. Several law firms, including Wallace & Graham, are investigating any potential compensation. Duke is already facing multiple lawsuits by people living near coal-burning plants. Notice there was never any mention of compensation until the lawsuits started being filed.
Cap in place is a band aid approach; the ash is never isolated from ground water. Pits with liners are a better solution, but all liner eventually fail, and can be damaged during installation. Duke has been recycling some ash into concrete products. This is the very best coal ash solution as it is permanently sequestered from human contact. Without intervention, the ash ends up in the air and water.
Duke was no doubt ecstatic when Pat McCrory became NC Gov. He was on Duke's payroll when he was mayor of Charlotte. Duke likes to have friends in high places to smooth out any political bumps in the road. Then came the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill. McCrory was accused by many of being a little too willing to protect Duke. When political accommodations appear blatantly obvious, the resulting headlines can become a liability. The headlines came, connecting Duke Energy, the coal ash spill and Pat McCrory. McCrory exhibited a knack for attracting negative publicity and protesters. A major self inflicted wound was the running battle between the governor's office and N.C. Division of Public Health. The flap was all around Duke and coal ash.
McCrory's office was accused of effectively rescinding 118 "do not drink" letters by watering down the wording. In a deposition into the matter, a state scientist said the water was not safe. McCrory's chief of staff accused the scientist of lying under oath. It was later revealed that McCrory's chief of staff had not even read the testimony before accusing state scientist of perjury. Duke Energy tried to get the scientist's testimony sealed from public view. A section chief in the N.C. Division of Public Health, resigned over McCrory's administration's misleading the public.
Republican NC Gov. Pat McCrory finally bit the dust in 2016. Republicans won big across the country, but McCrory's ample baggage prevented him from riding in on their coattails. McCrory contested the election results, but eventually had to concede to Roy Cooper. It is unknown how well Roy Cooper will perform, but he is unlikely to be totally controlled by Duke Energy.
Duke claims the Progress merger reaped great financial benefits. How many of these benefits were the direct result of the merger or the continued erosion of employee benefits? Every merger presents new opportunities for benefits reduction.
It sounds simple to throw someone from Progress into a top management position at a Duke plant and call the merger a great success. But the success is only on paper. One cannot come in with zero knowledge of Duke's history and be a rip-roaring success. One can come in and parrot meaningless, soul-sucking motivational jingles at every opportunity. The merger was the final nail in the coffin of the old Duke Power. No blame is placed on Progress employees; they did not ask for the merger either. It's just that oil and water do not mix readily.
The merger with Piedmont Natural Gas was completed in 2016. Duke went from demonizing Piedmont, to working with Piedmont, to owing Piedmont.
Happy New Year!
Welcome to 2016Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 5, 2016
2016 is getting off to a good start for those eligible for the voluntary separation offer and who are in a position to accept it. Employees who missed being eligible by a few days are distraught. Much as employees were who missed being grandfathered under the old pension plan by a few days.
The Cash Balance Pension Conversion is much like the decades of burning coal; all that remains is the deadly fallout. The fallout from both will remain for decades to come. Duke spends hefty sums on PR endeavors, attempting to project a rosy picture. Employees are encouraged to "get Duke's chestnuts out of the fire," by relating pandering stories to the public. With the exception of a few sycophants, Duke has failed miserably in its attempt to program employees into being company spin doctors. It always feels much better to just tell the truth.
Duke can never grasp that it is not necessary to concoct, fabricate, manipulate, spin, contort, rewrite, or otherwise construct a reputation façade. Good works will result in a good reputation. Conniving, shady conduct will always result in a poor reputation. All the machinations are so unnecessary, unless one's conduct has been questionable, and one would like to buy a new reputation! The problem is that few are stupid enough to believe the propaganda. Affirmations do not make it so. If the affirmations contradict the truth, they are only lies.
There was a time when Duke was one of the most credible companies around. Rates were continually reduced and it was not trying to take over the world. Over the years, the Machiavellian types gained control. Regulated monopolies were no longer good enough for them. They wanted to be like Enron. They were more interested in selling power than producing it. They wanted to be the biggest. They wanted world domination. Their quest failed miserably.
In recent years, Duke continued its efforts to become the biggest and wealthiest, by hook or crook. Evidently the mindset was that if enough power could be amassed, nothing else would matter. Duke actually achieved becoming the biggest power company, worth billions of dollars. But something was missing. Actually, a lot was missing. Credibility and integrity have taken a beating along the way. On top of everything else, the Progress merger will be a millstone around everyone's necks indefinitely.
Lynn Good has done a remarkable job as CEO, and cannot be blamed for shenanigans of the past. The "persona of the past" cannot be killed easily, if at all. Negative headlines will keep appearing. The positive headlines are manufactured by Duke's spin doctors.
The proposed Piedmont merger could be a sigh of better things to come. Ms. Good effectively explained the reasons for it. About twenty-five-years ago, Duke vilified Piedmont as the enemy. What did Piedmont do to deserve this? It had a better business plan and was way ahead of Duke in signing up new home builders for natural gas. Duke ranted and raved about demon Piedmont. Then Duke entered the natural gas business and started working with Piedmont for their mutual benefit. Duke and Piedmont have now come full circle. Pogo said "We have met the enemy and he is us." Soon former "enemy" Piedmont may actually become "us."
Happy New Year!
Budget cuts leading to 'small number' of layoffs at Duke Energy
Published by Charlotte Business Journal on Dec 11, 2015
Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) plans an unspecified number of job reductions across the corporation in what the company describes as a budgetary move.
The Charlotte-based power company says the number of layoffs will be small, with reductions also coming through attrition, early retirements, leaving vacant positions unfilled and reassigning people whose positions are eliminated to other jobs in the company.
"As part of the budget process, we are looking at ways to increase efficiency and productivity. This includes a relatively small number of voluntary and involuntary job reductions," the company says in a prepared statement. "Like any business, Duke Energy regularly reviews its operations to ensure that we are as efficient as possible, and can continue to offer affordable rates and services to our customers and a sustainable return to our shareholders."
The cuts come as Duke has had difficulty meeting expectations for earnings in three of its last four quarters.
CEO Lynn Good warned budget cuts would be coming in a Nov. 5 open forum with employees, according to an anonymously hosted website called the Duke Employee Advocate.
The site summarizes the occasional forums Good holds with employees. In recounting the most recent forum, Duke Employee Advocate says:
"250 Piedmont employees met with Ms. Good in an auditorium. She assured them that layoffs would be unlikely. "No such assurance was given to Duke employees. In fact, in October, Ms. Good painted a picture of 'identifying ways to take costs out of the business.' Employees know from long experience where the low-hanging cost reduction fruit is: the employees. "The Open Forum gave some clarification: No big voluntary layoffs and modest involuntary layoffs."
That sounds very much like the description the company is giving now.
"There is not a focus on layoffs at all," says spokesman Tom Williams. "The cuts will occur throughout the company, not in one region."
Duke has about 30,000 employees and 20,000 people who work for contractors with the company. The company is looking to tighten spending across the board.
Williams says that Duke will keep its commitment to maintain about a minimum of 1,000 employees in the metro Raleigh area. That commitment was made to state regulators as they considered approving Duke's $13.7 billion purchase of Raleigh-based Progress Energy in 2012.
There is no indication how many reductions will occur in Charlotte.
2015 Employee Opinion SurveyEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - October 21, 2015
An Employee Opinion Survey was conducted in October, of course it's now called "Employee Engagement Survey." An Employee Opinion Survey implies that Duke only wants your opinions. An Employee Engagement Survey implies that Duke wants to know if you are bought-in and under it's thumb.
Below are comments submitted:
What do you like about working at Duke Energy?
Working for Duke Energy is better than starvation, as far as I know.
What changes, if any, would you make to Duke Energy?
I would change Duke Energy to actually practice ethics, rather than only proclaiming ethics. Benefits promised for decades of work would actually be delivered. There would be no bait-and-switch schemes to extract labor from employees without delivering the promised deferred compensation.
What would help you to be more effective in your job?
I would be more effective in my job if I did not have to work 72 hours a week. I would be more effective if I did not have to work all day and be on call all night.
What is the most important thing for Duke Energy leaders to know?
The most important thing for Duke Energy leaders to know is that the old scams will no longer work.
Can Duke Energy accept responsibility for its polluting already?By Mary Anna Rice, Assistant Opinion Editor - Thursday, March 26, 2015
Published in: Technician - The student newspaper of North Carolina State University since 1920
On March 10, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources fined Duke Energy $25.1 million for the corporation's pollution of groundwater at the Sutton power plant. And what is the company's answer to this indictment? Deny, deny, deny. The company plans to "vigorously contest" this fine.
Imagine a child crying because their sibling has a telling bruise, and they know they will get in trouble. If they are crying along with their sibling, they think they will be subject to less punishment.
Duke Energy's culpability in the charges filed is seemingly undeniable. Evidences of the company's absurd, almost decadent amounts of contamination have piled up over the last year, and the whole extensiveness of the pollution is still not entirely known. The Dan River coal ash spill of February 2014 drew apparently unwelcome attention to Duke Energy's many sites of ash pollution, one of which includes Wilmington's Sutton power plant.
Duke Energy's suspect actions don't end here; in addition to the immense magnitude of the contamination, Duke has a certain history of endeavoring to cover up its illegal tracks. The company spent $1.8 million on a new water supply line near Sutton when test wells indicated toxic groundwater was heading toward a neighborhood in late 2013. Though an estimate of 27 million gallons of water were contaminated by various metals in the Dan River spill, Duke Energy did not release a public statement regarding the spill until the next day, according to CatawbaRiverkeeper.com.
Paul Newton, Duke Energy's North Carolina president, proclaimed the actions by the N.C. DENR to be an example of "regulatory overreach" as well as a "chilling message to the North Carolina business community."
Note how Newton attempts to ground Duke Energy's effective monopoly as the "largest electric power holding company in the United States" by pointedly mentioning North Carolina's "business community," as though he may rightly lay claim to the troubles confronted by small businesses-troubles that are frequently initiated by corporations like Duke Energy.
How nice! He's suddenly concerned for us commoners-those whose water his company quite literally poisoned. North Carolina's business community was likely threatened to a larger extent by the vast amounts of contaminated water than by the N.C. DENR's charges against a (proven) guilty party that can more than afford it.
It may be hard to assign a monetary value to the various implications of the company's extensive pollution-the coal ash elements found in testing sites at Duke Energy's Sutton plant had exceeded state standards for up to five years-but $25.1 million seems like a more than fair amount for the prosperous corporation to pay in reparations. Duke Energy can most definitely afford it.
Though the effectiveness of fining polluting companies (many of which are repeat offenders) is an oft debated topic, I am more concerned with Duke Energy's posthumous self-positioning as the victim, especially considering that Duke just last month negotiated a $102 million settlement in response to its federal criminal charges concerning six of its power plants.
A business that intentionally disobeys sanctions instituted to help ensure our safety cannot be a victim. Though Duke Energy is eager to claim "community" and play the "We didn't mean to!" card, we shouldn't be so eager to go along with the ruse.
Duke Energy is yet another bullying, abusive corporation that dares to contest its own vices contrary to evidence and contrary to the basics of human decency. And why? To preserve an image that they regularly contradict.
Large businesses have behaved like impetuous children for years upon years, and we should at some point stop giving in to their whining. Although they may have poisoned the well, we don't have to continue to drink from it.
Cut Everyone's Pay - But Not Ours!Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 7, 2015
The Harvard faculty is being attacked by the monster that it created, according to the New York Times. Harvard's experts have been advising Congress on how to provide cheaper health insurance. Keep in mind that all employment benefits are compensation, including insurance. The professors were delighted to offer suggestion on how to cut the pay of American workers by reducing insurance benefits.
The faculty is now reaping poetic justice, and they do not like it one bit! It seems the nifty benefits reductions touted by Harvard's experts as good for the public, are now being applied to the faculty. Arts and Sciences faculty members are screaming in outrage. They voted to oppose the changes that would cause them to pay more for health insurance. Their vote came too late to stop it.
This episode brings to mind the corporate looting of pensions through cash balance plan conversion. Of course, Duke Energy was at the cash balance trough too. Actuaries received fat fees for devising ways to take money out of pensions. They had no problem with reducing pension benefits for American workers. But when one actuarial firm moved to convert its pension to a cash balance plan, the actuaries revolted! They knew most of all how much money they would lose. The actuaries created such an outcry that the firm reinstated their old pension plan.
Members of Congress, receiving contributions from large corporations, thought that cash balance plans were a great idea for the public. But when then Representative Bernie Sanders suggested legislation to give Congress members a cash balance plan, they wanted no part of it!
The 2003 letter to the IRS, linked below, details how some people are all for cash balance plans - as long as they do not get one:
Welcome to 2015Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 5, 2015
Four people lost their lives while working for Duke Energy in 2014. Executive Vice President/President, Regulated Generation, Dhiaa Jamil is scrutinizing near-misses for opportunities to enhance safety.
Lynn Good, Dhiaa Jamil and other executives have said that employee feedback will be considered in future moves. The company has previously endured many heartaches due to ignoring employee feedback. Arrogance has a price.
Lynn Good was a stabilizing force for Duke Energy after the coal ash spill in 2014. She did not follow the normal Duke pattern of claiming to be a victim. She did not try to deny everything and spin doctor it away by blaming environmentalist, media reports, sunspots, or engage in other such copouts. Ms. Good accepted responsibility and liability for the spill. She agreed to appear on "60 Minutes," and did a great job of answering questions about the spill. Ms. Good is fully in her power.
Of course, the spin doctoring crowd is still alive and well at Duke. In fact, Duke has hired a new "Chief Spin Doctor." "Here Come the Duke Bashers" wallows in victimhood, implying that everyone just hates Duke Energy and is spreading lies about it. It could have been more appropriately called "Here Come the Truth Tellers." Why would large numbers of people tell lies about Duke Energy? If a person goes to the effort to write a negative comment about Duke, it is more likely that they have a legitimate beef with Duke. For decades, Duke has presented different stories to different groups. Apparently Duke has not figured out that it can no longer get away suppressing information. When the various "stakeholders" compare notes, they often find that everyone loses except Duke Energy, and the stories do not match.
Stakeholders: A crowd clutching wooden stakes and hammers, chasing a vampire, with the intention of driving a stake through its evil heart.
Duke has previously used thinly veiled threats to discourage employees from making on-line comments about the company. When social media comments turned overwhelmingly negative against Duke, employees were begged to post something good about Duke. In a further attempt at damage control, Duke offered social media "training," stating "Duke is embracing social media as a way to build our brand." Any port in a storm! The social media push smacks of Duke's "grassroots" political agenda. When executives spoon-feed employees with exactly what to say, it is suddenly declared to be a grassroots uprising!
Employees were recruited to make feel-good videos calculated to make the coal ash issue vanish. But posing an employee with his dog really has nothing to do with spilling coal ash. Just how dumb does Duke think the public is?
The largest declining category in the 2014 Employee Engagement was, well, "employee engagement," at 63%.
Duke has touted the merger with Progress as the greatest thing ever. But all employees see is the continuing erosion of compensation, and benefits are part of total compensation. Benefits have been whittled away since the early 1980's.
One might think that after taking hundreds of millions of dollars out of the retirement plan, Duke would be satisfied with its take from employees. Nope. A couple of years later it was announced that future retirees would lose their lifetime fully-paid retiree health insurance. Since that time, health insurance for active employees has been getting worse and worse. Once, the health insurance deductible could be as little as twenty-five dollars for the year, and there were zero premiums. Over the years the deductible has bounced around between two-thousand dollars and twenty-five hundred dollars for a single employee, and the plans all now have premiums. This is not really an apples to apples comparison, but you get the drift; it not nearly as good as it used to be.
"Merger Harmonization" was supposed to make everything all better. But Duke tends to level down: Progress employees got the worst of Duke, and Duke employees got the worst of Progress. It turned out to be "Merger Homogenization:" Duke employees (oil) and Progress employees (water) were dumped into a high-speed blender. The results were nothing but froth, need, lack and scarcity.
Below is a Retirement Cash Balance Plan Merger Consolidation Notice sent out in November 2013:
Because of the changes to the RCBP, there is a potential that benefits you earn under the RCBP may not be as great as those that would have been earned had you continued to earn benefits under the RCBP prior to the amendment.So, your benefits may be reduced, the plan may be tinkered with more, but Duke will not even bother to tell you about the future changes!
How about one more notice for the road?
Please remember that regardless of when you retire, the Company always reserves the right to amend, modify, eliminate, suspend or terminate its retiree coverage in any respect and at any time, including, but not limited to, discontinuing credits to the Subsidy HRA, terminating the Subsidy HRA and/or eliminating retiree health coverage altogether.
Happy New Year!
2014 Duke Energy Employee Opinion SurveyEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - June 13, 2014
When a Duke program is floundering, it is time for the company to take bold action. The Employee Opinion Survey is no exception. Duke fixed everything by changing the name from "Employee Opinion Survey" to "Employee Engagement Survey!"
Duke appears to be waffling on the new name. The email announcing the "Employee Engagement Survey" survey was titled "Employee Opinion Survey."
It is open until June 30, 2014.
Below is a write-in comment submitted:
Duke Energy Fails to Dominate Social MediaEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - June 9, 2014
Duke Energy was quick to establish a social media presence. Here was a place it could peddle the Duke "brand," and put the Duke spin on everything. And, all this for FREE! What could possibly go wrong? Apparently everything.
For decades, Duke had full control of the media. Little was put out that Duke did not want put out. Anything that did not fit the approved script was easily suppressed. Duke is finding out that the current electronic media is a two-way street. Duke is finding out that citizens and customers are not just blank slates, waiting to be programmed by Duke Energy.
Even the CIA is getting into the social media act. ABC News reported that it made its first Twitter tweet June 6, 2014. The tweet was very much in character: "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet."
Duke is now lamenting "Duke Bashers" on social media. Duke's "social media experts" cannot save it. A handful of people tried to control the thinking of the masses, and failed miserably. Many seem to regard Duke's spin with an attitude of "You can't urinate on my leg and tell me it's raining!"
Duke's spin is that people's "only goal is to say something negative about Duke Energy." But the average person has no agenda concerning Duke Energy, one way or the other. People generally just tell the truth as they see it.
Duke used to accuse the media of being out to get it. But the media does not care one way or the other about Duke Energy. The media is only looking for news, and will publish the good, bad and ugly. If the consensus is that Duke has problems, perhaps Duke really has problems that cannot be spun away.
Duke seldom asks employee's opinions about anything that really matters. It only issues commandments, written on stone tablets, about what benefits will be taken away next. But when the chips are down, Duke comes to employees, hat in hand, asking to be saved.
Duke has previously warned employees about posting on-line comments about the company. But Duke is so desperate now that it is asking for employee to post on-line comments. Duke is apparently making the assumption that such comments will be wildly positive. Employees who have been hoodwinked out of their benefits year after year, may be fresh out of positive comments. The game of playing one group against another has its limits. When all groups have been alienated, where does one turn?
Even Duke's internal social media attempt has not been the lovefest envisioned. Below are Employee Advocate comments from the 2013 shareholder meeting report:
"Duke employees poured out much venom when the logo was first shown to them. Duke's touchy-feely employee comment section on its portal was an attempt to exploit the social media craze. It was undoubtedly envisioned as environment for company sycophants to ply their trade. Just imagine the executive's chagrin when it was used to blast the new, much touted, logo! The new logo is about the least important thing in the world to the Employee Advocate. But, for the record, it does look like a rotten banana, standing on its end, while rotating a Hula-Hoop around its hips (if a banana can have hips). The whole evolution could inspire a new Duke affirmation: 'We generate logos.' "
The Problem Investigation Program (PIP) has been around longer than social media. Employees are now using it to expose uncomfortable truths about the Progress merger and other issues.
A wave of truth is being unleashed upon the world. The power of the old regimes is crumbling. Governments and corporations feel it. They do not want to give up their power, but they have no choice. We indeed live in interesting times.
Welcome to 2014Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 6, 2014
Jim Rogers left the position of executive chairman at end of 2013 as part of a settlement agreement with The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC). He left his CEO position earlier in 2013 as part of the same settlement. The NCUC carefully worded the agreement to ensure that Mr. Rogers never returns to Duke in any capacity. Over the years, there have been many articles speculating on when Jim Rogers might retire. He always said that he had no intention of retiring, and that someone was always trying to rush him out the door. This time, the NCUC literately did rush Mr. Rogers out the Duke door. The wrath of the NCUC was incurred due to the firing of Bill Johnson on his very first day as Duke CEO. The Duke/Progress merger was finally approved, but at great cost to all involved. The merger could eventually turn out to be the greatest thing ever - for someone, but not employees. Wall Street always hears of Dukes "strong financial position." But all employees ever hear is a tale of need, lack and scarcity.
Lynn Good became the new CEO in 2013. She is too new in the position to be blamed for anything. She has already racked up numerous awards. Her performance as Duke's CFO allowed her to blow through the glass ceiling to become CEO. She understands how the money flows. It is unlikely that anyone else could have stepped into the CEO position as seamlessly as she has. Having been Duke's chief bean counter, she certainly knows how to squeeze a nickel. From statements made by Bill Johnson and Jim Rogers, it appears that Duke experienced much buyer's remorse over the merger. But Ms. Good now owns it, and it is up to her to make the merger work. It was not expected that the employee compensation issues would be resolved. The continuing squeeze that began in the early 1980's shows no signs of abating. Early on, Ms. Good stated that her priority would be to cut operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, not just for 2013, but for all time. The easiest O&M cost to cut is always employee compensation. Do you think any other CEO would have played the hand any differently? Ms. Good is operating in a state of grace, floating above the fray.
Jim Rogers was a dedicated CEO, who also won many awards for his performance. When he first become Duke CEO, he said that he did not want to have any mass layoffs and that he wanted to actively influence legislation. He delivered on both counts. But, playing national politics is a two edged sword, and not everything worked out as he planned.
Mr. Rogers has said "The thing I will miss most about Duke is the people." A Duke instructor said that he has asked many former employees if they missed Duke. He said that every one of them said that they missed the people. He added that not one ever said that they miss Duke Energy.
Duke projected a need for much more generating capacity, but got it wrong. The attitude seemed to be "build bigger plants at any cost, and the ratepayers will gladly pay for them." But all the extra capacity was not needed. And, customers have revolted against the continual rate increases. There have been ongoing protests and lawsuits about the building of new coal plants. Jim Rogers came from Cinergy, which was composed of all coal fired plants. He understands coal and is naturally biased toward it. Plus, coal seemed cheap. But if one calculates all the health and environmental costs of coal, it is very expensive. Mr. Rogers built two coal fired plants: Cliffside in NC, and Edwardsport in Indiana. Both were designed to maximize federal subsidies. Edwardsport went overboard on expensive, whiz-bang technology which is not ready for prime time. Then there were the huge cost overruns. Customers have protested, and sued, for getting stuck with the bill for this white elephant. There was a huge ethics scandal during the building of the plant that resulted in Jim Turner, CEO of Duke Energy regulated utilities, resigning. An interesting point about Jim Rogers and Jim Turner is that both were once ratepayer advocates. They went from the side of fighting to save money for ratepayers to the side of passing every cost possible to the ratepayers. Of course, switching sides boosted their salaries from relative peanuts to millions. Cliffside was renamed the James E. Rogers Energy Complex. He is probably glad that Edwardsport was not named after him.
Power Engineering Magazine recently named Jim Rogers the most influential person in the power-generation industry for the last 25 years. He has departed Duke with ample name recognition, a share or two of Duke stock and endless horizons. Even though he was not ready to leave Duke, his departure will only open up new worlds of opportunities for him. The world has not heard the last of Jim Rogers.
The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) was created by Bill Lee after the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown. The purpose was for nuclear plants to share information to prevent future disasters. It was a good idea. But as often happen with good ideas, too many cooks began trying to outdo each other on what to put into the soup. INPO came up with more and more outlandish programs that only bogged down the work. Even simple, low risk jobs required long meetings, briefings, and the reading of cards hung around everyone's neck. By the time employees got through the gauntlet, they were zoned out, and it's a wonder any work was ever accomplished. A most miraculous thing occurred in 2013; INPO came to realize that it was often more of a hindrance than help! INPO compiled a comprehensive document to try to kill the monster that it created. The document is astoundingly accurate in recognizing the self-created problems. It remains to be seen if the ideas in the document can actually be implemented. Monsters are much easier to create than destroy. The kicker is the Duke executives, who relished creating more useless programs, are now promoting the INPO reform document! They tend to bend with whichever breeze is blowing. They would never question any INPO program up front. But after INPO admits that many of its programs are garbage, the executives are quick to totally agree!
Happy New Year!
2013 Employee Opinion SurveyEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - July 9, 2013
The 2013 Employee Survey was not open to everyone.
Below are comments sent in. The comments are no reflection on the current CEO, who is brand new and starts with a clean slate.
Nuclear is Different?
Duke Energy often quotes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by saying "nuclear is different." Duke wants nuclear employees to always strive for excellence in all ways.
But when it comes to compensation, we find that nuclear is not so different after all! Nuclear employees are subjected to all the compensation and benefits scams going. Nuclear employees might as well be day laborers, except day laborers often get more equitable compensation treatment. When one is paid an agreed amount of cash daily, there is no opportunity to bait-and-switch deferred compensation. There is no deferred compensation; the day laborer receives the full value of his work on the spot. If a hapless day laborer should get on the back of a truck owned by a shady operator, the most he can ever lose is the value of one-days labor.
Nuclear employees do not receive the full value of their work immediately. Part of their compensation is deferred. The value of the unpaid compensation is supposedly placed into pension and other benefit programs. There always seems to be some corporate executive staying awake at night, scheming for ways to transfer the benefit money to their pocket. Why pay the benefit money to employees when it could be used to buy country club memberships and executive stock options? Nuclear employees can lose much more that the value of a day's labor. They can lose 30-years of unpaid compensation with the stroke of a crooked pen.
Nuclear is different? Baloney!
Nuclear is only different when the company tries to extract more from employees. When is comes to compensation, it's business as usual.
Duke has explained that when the compensation of Duke and Progress employees is "harmonized," it will be an average of the pay scale of other nuclear companies. Does Duke expect average work for average pay? No, Duke wants all parameters to be in the top quartile of all nuclear plants. There is an expectation for employees to over-deliver while Duke under-delivers.
What do employees at top ranked Duke nuclear plants get? They may get a free meal or a jacket every couple of years. What compensation will they get in the future? Duke says that they will get average pay. The message is clear; no matter what you accomplish, the most you can get is average pay and maybe a free meal. Do not count on your deferred compensation either. History has shown that your benefits can and will evaporate overnight.
Lynn Good Elected Duke Energy CEOEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - June 19, 2013
Duke Energy announced Tuesday (6/18/13) that Lynn Good has been unanimously elected as president and CEO. Duke has made the best possible decision.
September 29, 2008, the Employee Advocate wrote about three highly qualified people in top Duke positions: CEO Jim Rogers, Chief Financial Officer David Hauser, and Chief Nuclear Officer Dhiaa Jamil.
David Hauser has since retired and Dhiaa Jamil has moved on to higher positions, but is still with Duke. Lynn Good succeeded David Hauser as CFO four years ago. She had big shoes to fill and has proven herself to be worthy.
July 1, she will succeed Jim Rogers as CEO. Those were very powerful moves. In a short time, she has moved into two of the three most important positions in Duke Energy. Lynn Good is a powerful person. She is not powerful because she will become CEO. The CEO position came to her because she is powerful and people recognize it.
Jim Rogers will remain chairman of the board for the rest of 2013 to help smooth her transition. She will have the nuclear experience of Dhiaa Jamil to rely on. It will be very hard for anything to stand in her way.
Employees will be willing to meet her more than halfway. They are weary of the many years of daily conflict and want something better. If a clean break could be made from the corporate hoodwinking of the past, all would prosper.
Sometimes when a new CEO comes in, it can be an almost magical time. Transformations can occur that would otherwise be impossible. Lynn Good is holding a royal flush; do not bet against her.
Duke Energy's Little TyrantEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - March 26, 2013
Some years ago, a little tyrant was promoted to head a department in a Duke nuclear plant. His goal was to whip the department into shape. The little tyrant called the whole department to a meeting to lay down the law. He said the department had a reputation for questioning decisions made by management. He made it clear that everyone was going to do exactly what they were told, with no questions asked.
Many climb the corporate ladder due to their ability. Others get kicked up the ladder only because they are jerks, and this is the easiest way to get them out of the department. Employees who had worked for the little tyrant agreed that it was the latter case that kept him moving up the ladder.
The less talented try to justify their positions by fervently promoting every lame program that comes down the pike. They want to be seen as "bought in." But they are often seen as only "bought and paid for."
The little tyrant rolled into his new position as the "zero accidents" program was being resurrected from the failed programs graveyard. Needles to say, he proselytized zero accidents like there was no tomorrow. Zero accidents sounds like a good thing. But the little tyrant beat employees over the head with it so much that they were afraid to make a move. Who knew what dire fate would befall anyone having an accident under the little tyrant's watch.
The inevitable happened: employees began concealing accidents. The main thing the little tyrant accomplished was creating a bloody trail to the parking lot. Some in management suspected that something was amiss. It was unnatural for people to do hands-on work month after month, with never an accident occurring. But the zero accidents steam roller went charging ahead.
Then the "management speak" began. One side of the mouth encouraged accident reporting; the other side let it be know that there would be hell to pay if anyone had an accident. Employees knew how this game would be played, and reported zero accidents.
A certain doctor treated an employee who worked for the little tyrant. That doctor told the Employee Advocate that the employee's whole side was black from falling on a pipe at work. The employee laughed and told the doctor that he was NOT going to report it at work!
The zero accidents sham continued on. Employees were injured on the job, but always concealed it. Finally, an accident happened involving broken bones. It left an employee unable to walk, being carried off the job and sent to a hospital. This accident was a little too visible to be concealed.
Thus, the little tyrant's record zero reported accidents came to an end. But the charade had served its purpose. Duke recognized the little tyrant as a national hero. All employees in the department were even given awards.
As a side note, Duke got back every dime spent on awards and more too. The cash balance pension plan was implemented soon thereafter!
The little tyrant's career path was now unstoppable. He was promoted the highest position in the plant. He then moved to another Duke plant. He stayed in that position long enough to get a better offer from another company. Then he dropped Duke like a hot potato.
How did the little tyrant's "do only as you are told" agenda work out? It failed miserably. Duke came to realize that no one knows more about plant equipment than those who work on it every day. They know more about it than management ever will. It was realized that prohibiting employees from questioning any management decision would eventually lead to catastrophe.
Hypothetical Post-Accident Interview:Duke then started conducting classes encouraging a "questioning attitude." Duke finally caught on that silencing employee would come back to bite it.
That's the way Duke's agendas go: full-forward, full-reverse, full-forward, full-reverse.
2012 Employee Opinion Survey ResultsEmployee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - March 4, 2013
64 percent of employees responded to the 2012 survey; 36 percent chose not to respond. Not even responding to the survey is much worse than responding with negative answers. No response means that these employees just do not care what the company does. Or, they fear that truthful answers given to Duke Energy will only be used against them.
Only 39 percent agreed that there is a high level of trust in the company. Stated another way, 61 percent of responding employees see a low level of trust in the company. Remember, 36 percent did not even respond. If these employees did not trust Duke Energy enough to take the survey, how do you think that they would have answered this question? It is fair to say that greater than 61 percent of employees see little trust in Duke Energy.
Less than half of responding employees are confident in the ability of senior management to make decisions. Again, consider the non-responding employees and the results are even worse.
Less than half believe that sufficient effort is made to solicit their opinion.
The question was never asked: "Does Duke implement meaningful resolutions to matters brought up by employees in surveys?" This is one of many questions that never gets asked.
Welcome to 2013Employee Advocate - www.DukeEmployees.com - January 7, 2013
A year ago, the Employee Advocate wrote "It's sad to say, but 2012 could be the worst year ever!" And, at Duke Energy, 2012 turned out not to be exactly a banner year.
The merger with Progress was a total disaster. This was not supposed to be a hostile takeover, but it turned out to be hostile and deceitful.
The prospect that Bill Johnson would curtail some of Duke's inane processes did not come to fruition. It's really hard to accomplish much when you are only CEO for a few hours! The flip side is that no Duke Energy disasters can ever be blamed on Bill Johnson.
In typical fashion, Duke did not want ANY details to become public. July 3, 2012, Duke Energy posted on its website "Bill Johnson Resigns by Mutual Agreement." That banal statement was supposed to ward off any questions and be the total and final word on the matter. Duke Energy had spoken! Bill Johnson also was paid to not disparage Duke Energy and to cooperate with the company.
John H. Mullin III, the former lead director of Progress Energy, was under no such constraints. He blew the whistle on the whole sorry deal in letters to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Mullin wrote "This is the most blatant example of corporate deceit that I have witnessed during a long career on Wall Street…As a noncontinuing director of the combined company, I now, along with similarly situated former directors of Progress, find myself without a constituency and without an ability to mount a challenge to what I believe is one of the greatest corporate hijackings in U.S. business history."
The New York Times quoted former Progress Director Alfred C. Tollison Jr. as saying "I was surprised, shocked, and I felt misled. I did not expect this from Duke Energy and am really disappointed with how this turned out."
Some former Progress directors and executives resigned over the firing of Bill Johnson. The division between the two joined companies could not have been greater.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) took an interest in the these developments and opened an investigation. NCUC held hearings, with Jim Rogers, lead director Ann Gray and other directors giving testimony. From hearing testimony, it appears that Mrs. Gray feared that she would not be able to get Mr. Johnson under her thumb. Apparently, Duke was expecting a fully controllable marionette for a CEO. But Mr. Johnson came with no strings to be pulled.
North Carolina's attorney general also began an investigation.
Nonprofit group NC WARN filed a number of merger motions. One motion contested the secrecy of at least 15 side deals designed to grease the merger tracks.
What a dilemma for Duke Energy. Duke was used to controlling every little detail and operating in complete secrecy. How could Duke possibly cope with a CEO with a mind of his own? Duke could fire him on his first day - that's how!
Duke is forever fostering the "big happy family," "trust" and "transparency" propaganda. Now all can see how it really works. If Duke will ambush its own CEO, where does everyone else stand? Former Progress employees no doubt realize that they have entered a pool of sharks.
Duke's attempts to keep the merger fiasco details under wraps failed miserably. NCUC posted Duke's merger documents, director's emails and hearing recordings on its website. NCUC did not fall for Duke's standard ploy of claiming that everything under the sun was a trade secret and could not be revealed. So, even more of Duke's secret document were posted. Duke can be transparent, but only at gunpoint.
NCUC could have looked the other way. But it conducted a thorough investigation and came down hard on Duke. One of the many settlement provisions was that Jim Rogers must leave Duke Energy at the end of this year - forever. Mr. Rogers also had to apologize to the Commission for mishandling the merger. It took two tries to get it right, according to the News and Observer.
In 2001, The South Carolina Public Service Commission did not look the other way when a Duke Energy accountant blew the whistle on excess profits being hidden from the regulators. NCUC also investigated. Settlements of millions of dollars were reached in both states.
Bill Johnson came out the real winner. He received an exit package of about $44 million. He is now the CEO of TVA. He upheld his end of the merger agreement. He also insisted that Duke hold up its end. He no longer has to contend with Duke's back-stabbing directors. He could be a contender for CEO of the year. He held the moral high ground the whole way.
There is a clear pattern of information being hidden by Duke Energy. When the cash balance plan conversion was implemented in 1997, getting a straight answer out of Duke was almost impossible. Cash balance plans were designed with two objectives:
Duke Energy naturally stonewalled the whole way during the ensuing lawsuit. It was discovered that the Duke Energy Cash Balance Plan Administrator was less than truthful under oath. Our attorneys charged Duke with Fraud Upon the Court.
A federal judge ruled that Duke must turn over its privileged attorney-client document to determine the truth.
Duke could not have that! Duke suddenly became willing to negotiate a settlement.
Some employees still believe the settlement was for age discrimination. The settlement was only for an interest rate dispute, covering a short period of time. The age discrimination charge had been previously dismissed. So, no one was able to buy a new jet aircraft with their settlement.
Jim Rogers said early-on that he intended to actively influence legislation. Millions of dollars thrown at lobbyist and politicians certainly does have an influence. Mr. Rogers has often said that those not at the table are on the menu.
Employees without union representation are never at the table, but are alway on the menu!
Even the CEO's that came after the cash balance plan conversion are complicit in it. They paid big bucks to influence legislation after the fact.
Jim Rogers hosted a fundraiser for notorious pension grabber Rob Portman:
Duke Energy picked up the tab for an award for big time pension grabber Elizabeth Dole:
So, if legislation is not skewed sufficiently in favor of corporations up front, it is fixed later through the backdoor. Former Rep. Health Shuler has hit the revolving door between government and corporations. He is now Duke Energy's "senior vice president of federal affairs." He will be able to fix legislation to favor Duke by lobbying the federal government.
It was reported by boldprogressives.org that Rep. Shuler recently denied that he was considering a lobbing job. A transcript of an exchange with reporters was posted:
FANG: [There are press reports that] you're already negotiating for a lobby job…
If Mr. Shuler feels that being a hired sycophant for Duke Energy is preferable to reporting the truth, he deserves the job.
Fallout from the Edwardsport ethics scandal is still occurring. In October, indystar.com reported the project was going to cost an extra $174 million to fix engineering problems. It will cost over $3.5 billion to build a coal-fired plant.
Duke played the same "trade secret" game with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The commission grilled Duke about the number of secret documents and the inconsistency in classifying them.
A settlement capped the amount of cost Edwardsport overruns that Duke could pass on to customers. Indystar.com reported that customers will still pay the bulk of construction costs: $2.595 billion, plus millions of dollars in financing costs.
Duke Energy has tried to treat the Fukushima meltdowns as a nonevent, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) saw it differently. Duke has been required by the NRC to make continual upgrades, based on the Fukushima event.
Two government engineers blew the whistle on the NRC for hiding flood risks at nuclear plants from the public. The poster child was Duke Energy's Oconee Nuclear Plant. Duke's own analysis was cited as stating that in the event of a dam failure, "a meltdown would be a virtual certainty."
Duke lost a Catawba River water-quality appeal in S.C. top court, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Jim Rogers could not get a break in 2012. Even successfully promoting hosting the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte had repercussions. Some objected to Duke's blatant involvement in national politics. Some objected to the millions of dollars in loan guarantees provided by Duke. There were problems getting donations to cover convention expenses. Unionized labor threaten to boycott the convention being held in anti-labor North Carolina. (With Pat McCrory as governor, expect North Carolina to become even more anti-labor.) Obama appeared to downplay the fact that the DNC was being held in North Carolina. There was no shortage of protestors at the DNC.
There were numerous environmental protest against Duke Energy during 2012.
2013 will almost have to be a better year for Duke Energy. Don't worry about Jim Rogers; he will have plenty of other opportunities after he leaves Duke. It would seem that he would be happy to leave Duke behind - forever.
Happy New Year!