Jim Rogers, the iconic former chairman and chief executive officer of Duke Energy, died Monday, December 17th, in Louisville, Ky. He was 71.
“Our industry has lost one of its most influential and extraordinary leaders,” said Lynn Good, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy. “I was fortunate to work alongside Jim and see his dynamic leadership skill up close. He was not afraid to tackle the hard questions with a personable style that brought people together for positive solutions. We will miss Jim but we will also long remember his accomplishments and his mission to light the world.”
Rogers became president and CEO of Duke Energy following the merger between Duke Energy and Cinergy in 2006. Before the merger, he served as Cinergy's chairman and CEO for more than 11 years.
Prior to the formation of Cinergy, he served as chairman, president and CEO of PSI Energy from 1988 until 1994. He retired as Duke Energy CEO in 2013 – one year after the Duke Energy/Progress Energy merger made the company the largest electric utility in the nation.
During his tenure, Rogers led Duke Energy to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and steered the company to more renewable energy, a focus that continues today. Duke Energy has reduced carbon emissions 31 percent since 2005 and has invested $7 billion in wind and solar facilities across the nation.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Rogers spent most of his childhood in Danville, Ky. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees at University of Kentucky. Rogers worked as a reporter at Lexington Herald-Leader early in his career. He later served as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of Kentucky and held numerous legal positions in the government and private sectors.
Rogers was one of the first leaders in the energy industry to speak about the changes needed in the face of climate change. As CEO at Cinergy in 2003, he pushed the
company’s first Sustainability Report - and continued that publication after moving to Duke Energy.
Since leaving Duke Energy, he devoted much of his energy to the issue of how rural people in low-income nations can get access to clean, sustainable electricity. He frequently wrote and lectured on the topic. In 2015, he wrote the book “Lighting the World,” which further explored the topic.
In 2014, he was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was awarded the Edison Electric Institute’s Distinguished Leadership Award for his 25 years of service and exemplary contributions to the electric utility industry. He was the 2013 recipient of the United States Energy Association Award, and was named the most influential person in the power generation industry by Power Engineering magazine and the energy industry’s CEO of the Year by Platts.
He was the founding chairman of the Institute for Electric Efficiency, former co-chair of the Alliance to Save Energy and past co-chair of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency. In 2011, he was presented with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® Lifetime Achievement Award; and the Charlotte Regional Partnership Jerry Award. The Charlotte Business Journal also named him its Business Person of the Year for 2011.
Moving to Charlotte in 2006, Rogers became an important figure to the growth of the city. He was co-chair of the host committee for the Democratic National Convention, which was held in Charlotte in 2012. Queens University's science and health building in Charlotte – Rogers Hall – is named for him.
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