New Nuclear Must Be Part Of Our Energy Future
"As we wait for Washington to break its gridlock and deflate its deficit bubble, we need to continue to modernize our power infrastructure and build more efficient sources of generation. We need to innovate and push ahead, and one of the keys to moving forward is new nuclear power.
"New nuclear generation is an important part of our decarbonization strategy because it's the only source of carbon-free, base-load power. Nuclear is expensive in the short term, but actually low-cost in the long term. We know this well in the Carolinas because nuclear provides half of our generation. It's a large part of the reason why our electricity rates are so much lower than the national average. Today we benefit from decisions made decades ago to invest in nuclear power. We need to continue that tradition and be willing to invest more now so future generations can pay less in the future.
"Across the U.S. from the Carolinas to the Midwest and the West coast, utilities are modernizing their aging fleets for the next forty-fifty years. By 2050, Duke Energy will need to replace our entire fleet, with the exception of our hydro facilities. In the next two years alone we will spend $8-to-$9 billion on new capital construction. You can count the number of companies in the U.S. that will invest as much capital to build plants that employ Americans in America on one hand.
"That's part of the good news. In 2010, Duke Energy spent more than $2 billion constructing new plants and solar farms in the Carolinas. These investments created more than 2,500 jobs directly, and of course supported many others indirectly through our suppliers such as Shaw, General Electric, and hundreds of small North Carolina businesses.
Keeping The Nation's Largest Utility In North Carolina
"Our merger with Progress Energy will help make the construction of new nuclear generation possible because our combined company will have a stronger balance sheet with more diverse earnings. This is important in order to access the large amounts of capital needed to build new nuclear plants.
"Bigger is not always better. But what our merger does is combine the talents of two great North Carolina companies so we can lead the nation into a lower-carbon, more efficient energy future.
"The merger also makes financial sense. By combining our operations we will be able to save our customers $600-800 million in fuel costs in the Carolinas over the next five years.
"I've led three mergers during my 22-year career as a CEO, and I know there is a lot of concern in the community, and in our companies. Our company will remain a key contributor to our communities across our state, especially Raleigh and the Triangle, where Progress Energy is an exceptional corporate citizen.
"We hear about the real estate bubble, excessive leverage, and flawed regulation in the financial services as causes of the economic crises. It's true. All of these factors contributed to the crisis. But at a deeper level what happened is that lost its sense of purpose in the U.S.
"We need to refocus on purpose now, on values, on significance. Wealth for wealth's sake is meaningless. Just as getting big simply to get large is misguided, and sometimes tragic. This reorientation is purpose-driven capitalism.
"Purpose-driven capitalism is really an old-idea in a new suit. It's the recognition that business has a role to play in society beyond simply driving shareholder returns. Business serves a wide array of stakeholders, from customers and employees, to business partners, the government, and our communities. And I believe the true value of a business can only be measured in relation to its impact on its wide array of stakeholders, not just earnings per share.
"This isn't to say that the bottom line doesn't matter. As all of us in this room know, it does and always will. But it's only one limited measure of success.
"Purpose-driven capitalism. Many of you live it. I certainly have tried to throughout my career. I actually think we have a better sense of what this means in North Carolina than elsewhere in the U.S. And soon we will have an opportunity for some more of the world to see our values. In 2012, we'll be hosting our first national political convention in North Carolina. It will be a rare opportunity to showcase our state's resilience on a national and international stage.
"The change begins with us, here, now. It's not just energy, or healthcare, or new-generation textiles, or financial services. It's all of us who are making a living in the private sector and creating opportunities for others. It's purpose-driven capitalism, home grown, here in the great state of North Carolina."