Duke Energy CEO gets hefty pay raise 1 year after massive coal ash spill

Duke Energy's board of directors has voted to bump CEO Lynn Good's salary above $1.2 million, calling her performance 'exemplary' just a year after a Duke coal ash spill filled 70 miles of a North Carolina river with toxic heavy metals.

Chuck Burton/AP
Duke Energy president and CEO Lynn Good gestures as she speaks to a business group during a luncheon in Charlotte, N.C., April 2, 2014. Ms. Good is getting a raise a year after the country's largest electric company confronted a coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday, June 29, 2015.

Duke Energy Corp. CEO Lynn Good is getting a raise a year after the country's largest electric company confronted a coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in sludge containing toxic heavy metals, the company said in a regulatory filing Monday.

Duke Energy's board of directors approved raising Good's annual salary by $50,000 to more than $1.2 million, the only part of her pay package that's guaranteed. Bigger boosts in incentives could push her potential annual compensation to $10.5 million a year, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Good previously topped out at about $8 million a year if she met short- and long-term goals.

"Her performance has been exemplary and the board is pleased with her leadership," the company said in a prepared statement.

Duke Energy disclosed in March that its directors had docked Good's pay about $600,000 in 2014, the year the spill happened, because the spill was expected to cost $192 million in cleanup, legal fees, and fines to settle a criminal case involving Clean Water Act violations. That reduction "was not a factor in the board's decision to increase her compensation," the company said.

The company said it spent about $20 million to clean up the Dan River after a pipe under a coal ash pit broke in February 2014. About $70 million more went to consulting, engineering, legal and other costs in the aftermath, the company said.

Duke Energy also negotiated a plea agreement with prosecutors under which it admitted guilt and will pay $102 million in fines, restitution and community service to settle the alleged Clean Water Act violations. The costs of the settlement approved by a federal judge in May will be borne by its shareholders rather than its electricity customers, the company said.

The company also faces further costs as it complies with a state law passed last year requiring the company to cap or remove all of its coal ash dumps by 2029. Four high-priority sites must close by 2019. It hasn't been decided how much of those costs will be added to power bills.

Duke Energy has more than 7 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.