I read with disappointment Times business columnist's Bob Trigaux's recent piece regarding his observations about Duke Energy. The question he asks, "What do we really know about this new power company?" is justified. As customers, you have a right to know about the company that powers your life and the Florida economy, so I'd like to share with you my first-hand observations.
When I joined the company in 1996, we were Florida Power. In 2000, we became Progress Energy, and now we are Duke Energy. One thing I've learned from these changes is that while we may look different from the outside, what matters most is on the inside: the work we do each day to power our homes and businesses, safely and reliably — a responsibility we take most seriously. Whether an employee has been with the company for three days or three decades, they're part of an organization committed to serving nearly 1.7 million customers who count on us 24/7.
Our employees are the first responders to the communities we serve when Mother Nature hits our state. Our crews are the ones who run into the storm, not evacuate out. Our employees are the ones who risk their lives each and every day to ensure the lights are on, the AC is cooling, the phones are charging, and the Florida economy keeps running.
And our employees do all of this at a cost of less than $4 a day to our customers — cheaper than many families' cable TV or phone service, neither of which will work without us. That's value.
Duke Energy provides value that is based on our employees' unwavering focus on safety, operational excellence and outstanding customer service. For the benefit of our customers, this means:
• Providing reliable service at an affordable cost. Our Florida rates are among the lowest in the state. In fact, our 1,000 kWh residential price is lower than 75 percent of all other Florida electric utilities and 7 percent below the national average. Last year marked the best year of reliability in the 114-year history of the company, and we were a leader among our peers in Florida. The reliability of our fossil generation fleet has also been outstanding. Our Bartow and Hines sites are generating roughly 62 percent of our energy. And, for the fourth consecutive year, our Hines Energy Complex was recognized as No. 2 in the nation for gas-fired combined cycle generation.
• Helping our customers save money. Since 1981, our energy-efficiency programs have saved customers nearly $1.25 billion on their energy bills, and we encourage all of our customers to take advantage of these programs.
• Supporting our communities. Our charitable contributions in Florida totaled more than $3.2 million in 2012. In the last three years alone, our employees have volunteered 40,000 hours of their time to help those less fortunate. This is who we are, and as part of Duke Energy we'll continue this proud tradition and even strive to raise the bar.
• Positioning Florida for economic growth. Since 2005 our economic development team has helped attract 186 companies to Florida, generating or retaining more than 27,000 jobs and bringing more than $2 billion in capital investment to the state. As Duke Energy has brought Apple's iCloud center to Charlotte, and BMW to Greenville, S.C., we will bring this same effort and focus to Florida. Since the merger, our new Duke Energy Business Development Team has already produced results with six new potential companies being referred to us in Florida.
Yes, our name is now Duke Energy, but one thing that will never change is our employees' unwavering commitment to our customers, to the communities in which we live, work and raise our families, and to our state. I'm so very proud to work with 4,200 of the best people in the business and in this state. We are Duke Energy.
Alex Glenn is state president/Florida of Duke Energy.