Duke Energy named a new leader of its Carolinas operation Friday and created a new position focused on developing nuclear generation for current Carolinas president Ellen Ruff.
In naming Ruff as its president of nuclear generation, Duke also said it may look for partners to help build its proposed $11 billion Lee nuclear station near Gaffney, S.C., lowering its costs and spreading risks during uncertain financial times.
“This is about exploring the overall needs of the region and exploring whether another (ownership) concept would work,” Ruff said in an interview. “It might mean that we don't need (to own) all of Lee.”
Duke is also investing $2.4 billion in an 800-megawatt expansion of its Cliffside coal-fired power plant in Rutherford County.
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As a lawyer with Duke more than two decades ago, Ruff helped negotiate shared ownership of the utility's Catawba nuclear plant on Lake Wylie. Duke now owns Catawba with 38 municipal systems and electrical cooperatives in the Carolinas.
Lee would go online in 2018, becoming Duke's first nuclear plant to open since Catawba went online in 1985. Duke is seeking a federal construction and operating license for the new plant.
In her new position, Ruff will report directly to chairman and chief executive Jim Rogers, which she does not now do.
Nuclear energy provides about half of Duke's electric generation in the Carolinas, with coal providing most of the rest. Ruff said she expects that proportion to hold steady in coming decades, and Rogers said in a statement that the utility anticipates more nuclear generation in the two states.
Brett Carter, now senior vice president of customer service and business development, will replace Ruff as president of Duke Energy Carolinas. He will be responsible for rate and regulatory issues, managing government relations, economic development and community affairs.
Carter joined Duke in 2005. He previously worked as a vice president for Aquila, an electric and gas company in Kansas City, Mo., that has since been sold to Great Plains Energy and Black Hills Corp.
In other key changes, Sandra Meyer, now president of Duke Energy Ohio and Duke Energy Kentucky, will become senior vice president of power delivery for U.S. Franchised Electric and Gas. That division handles the electric transmission and distribution systems in Duke's five-state service area.
Julie Janson replaces Meyer, moving from her current post as senior vice president of ethics and compliance, and corporate secretary.