Duke Energy CEO cites 'year of accomplishment,' praises director - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Duke Energy CEO cites 'year of accomplishment,' praises directors

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV/WNCN) -

The head of Duke Energy defended the company's performance on Thursday, saying it had been a "year of accomplishment for Duke Energy" at a dramatic shareholders meeting in Charlotte.

Lynn Good, the president and CEO of the company, also said she would take a canoe trip with river keepers to view the problems caused by coal ash spills.

"Shall we shake hands?" Good asked the former river keeper who asked her to come out on the water so she could see pollution first hand. "Can I have my life vest on the river?"

Good also said Duke Energy is "committed to do the right thing."

About 200 protesters gathered outside at the event, and participants had to enter through metal detectors.

Duke Energy's handling of coal ash spills in North Carolina rivers has raised questions about how well it has handled the coal ash disposal and its commitment to protect the state's environment.

The company also decided to retain all of its directors, even four long-time board members who had been the target of some major investors due to the massive coal ash spill into the Dan River in February.

Two of Duke Energy's large shareholders said in an April 14 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that they wanted the four of to step down following the massive coal ash spill into the Dan River in February.

CalPERS and the New York City Pension Funds, are long-term shareowners in the company. In the filing, they ask other shareowners to vote against the re-election of G. Alex Bernhardt, Sr., James B. Hyler, Jr., James T. Rhodes, and Carlos A. Saladrigas at the company's annual meeting on May 1.

In the filing, CalPERS and the NYC Pension Funds say that the four directors "failed to fulfill their obligations of risk oversight as members of a committee overseeing health, safety, and environmental compliance at the company."

And on Wednesday, North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell said the state's public pension funds, which own a piece of Duke Energy, would try to use their influence to try to force Duke's board of directors to bring in people and improve oversight of the cleanup of a massive coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a river with toxic sludge.

However, Good said Thursday that the directors will not be stepping down; the four were voted back into their seats.

Thursday's stance continued Duke Energy's position in saying the company has aggressively, and appropriately, responded to problems. Duke has defended its response to the coal ash spills, and its directors, in a later filing with the SEC.

In filings with the SEC, Duke Energy called what happened "an accident" and said it has taken responsibility for the problem.

The incident has significant political implications, given that Gov. Pat McCrory spent most of his career as a Duke Energy employee.

Duke Energy stock traded at $74.59 a share on May 1, 2013, and was right at that number Thursday, with the stock trading at $74.53 Thursday afternoon at 1:15 p.m.

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