Duke Energy is a John Wayne-sized power business. The company has 4 million electric customers and about 500,000 gas customers in the South and Midwest. Its US Franchised Electric and Gas unit operates primarily through its Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Ohio, Duke Energy Indiana and Duke Energy Kentucky regional businesses. The company has 35,000 MW of electric generating capacity in the Midwest and the Carolinas, including 7,550 MW of commercial power generation. Duke Energy International has 4,500 MW of generation capacity. While it is focused on energy operations, Duke also has some limited insurance, real estate, and telecom assets. In 2011 Duke agreed to buy Progress Energy for $13.7 billion.
The acquisition will create a $65 billion enterprise with the US' largest regulated customer base of 7.1 million electric utility customers in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. It will have 57,000 MW of domestic generating capacity and the largest nuclear generating fleet in the country. The deal anticipates major costs savings in fuel purchasing power, generating plant operations and other economies of scale benefits.
Boosting its role in the transmission sector, in 2011 Duke Energy agreed to form a transmission utility joint venture with American Transmission. Duke-American Transmission Co. will build, own, and operate new power transmission infrastructure across North America.
That same year, through its Duke Energy Renewables unit, the company acquired the Shirley Wind Power Project, a 20-MW wind farm in Wisconsin, from Central Hudson Energy Group. The project has a 20-year contract to sell its output to Wisconsin Public Service Corp. The acquisition will give Duke Energy more than 1,000 MW of renewable energy capacity.
In late 2011, the Renewables unit acquired three commercial solar projects in southwestern North Carolina. It bought the photovoltaic (PV) projects from ESA Renewables, and the power from each solar farm is sold through Blue Ridge Mountain EMC to the Tennessee Valley Authority. The unit has four other commercial solar farms in North Carolina, all located outside of Duke Energy's regulated service territories in the state. That year it also snapped up two solar farms in Arizona (in Ajo and Bagdad) from Recurrent Energy, doubling its portfolio of commercial solar projects in operation and expanding its footprint further into the western US. It acquired its first solar project, Blue Wing Solar, now a 14-MW solar farm in San Antonio, from juwi solar in January 2010.
By pursuing a strategy of developing green energy sources (to shrink its carbon footprint to meet regulatory requirements), Duke had more than 730 MW of wind power in operation and another 5,000 MW in development in 14 US states in 2010. That year it formed a partnership with Integrys Energy Services and Smart Energy Capital to build solar projects across the US. In 2010 Duke Energy also teamed up with Areva to build a $250 million biomass-fueled power plant in Shelton, in Washington state.
The company reported a jump in revenues and income in 2010 (led by increased revenues in its US franchised electric and gas segment) which was driven by rate increases and stronger demand as the economy recovered from a recession. To raise cash, that year Duke Energy sold its 50% stake in DukeNet communications to investment firm Alinda Capital Partners for $137 million.