Jim Rogers, utility CEO who advocated for clean energy, dies

Posted December 19, 2018 10:59 a.m. EST

— Jim Rogers, a former electric utility executive who was known as an advocate for clean energy, died Tuesday. He was 71.

Rogers was CEO of a number of different electric utilities. Rogers ended up leading Duke Energy after a 2012 merger with Progress Energy created what was then Ameria's largest electric company. He retired a year later.

Environmentalists criticized Duke Energy (DUK) for its use of coal, but Rogers became well known for his early concern with climate change and his efforts to move the utility industry away from using coal. He was praised Tuesday by Ralph Cavanagh, the energy co-director of the National Resources Defense Council.

"Jim will be remembered for all he did to convert America's electricity sector into an essential clean energy partner," said Cavanagh. "He understood earlier than most the promise of energy efficiency and renewable energy, and embraced them at a time when many of his utility peers were skeptical at best."

Duke's carbon emissions have been cut 31% since 2005. It has invested $7 billion in wind and solar facilities across the nation.

Rogers was CEO of PSI Energy from 1988 to 1994. He then moved onto Cinergy, a utility he led for more than 11 years before it merged it with Duke in 2006. He become CEO of the combined company.

"Our industry has lost one of its most influential and extraordinary leaders," said Duke CEO Lynn Good. "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."

Since retiring from Duke he spent much of his time working on bringing clean, sustainable energy to rural people in low-income nations. He was the founding chairman of the Institute for Electric Efficiency, former co-chair of the Alliance to Save Energy.

Rogers was living in Charlotte, where Duke is based. He was active in the growth of the city, credited with bringing 2012 Democratic convention to the city. Born in Alabama and raised in Kentucky, he was traveling in Louisville when he died suddenly on Tuesday.