Duke Energy is a John Wayne-sized power business. It serves electric and gas customers in the South and Midwest. Its US Franchised Electric and Gas unit operates through its Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Ohio, Progress EnergyDuke, Duke Energy Progress, Duke Energy Florida, Duke Energy Indiana and Duke Energy Kentucky regional businesses. The company has 52,700 MW of electric generating capacity from diverse mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil, and renewable resources. Duke Energy also has domestic commercial and international power assets. The company serves 7.4 million electric retail customers in the Southeast and Midwest. It also has some limited insurance, real estate, and telecom assets.
The company has retail energy customers in Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. Its US service area covers 95,000 square miles with an estimated population of 24 million. It also has commercial power plants in the US as well as in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru. The US accounted for 95% of Duke Energy's revenues in 2015; Latin America accounted for the balance.
Duke Energy operates through its major business segments -- Regulated Utilities, International Energy, and Commercial.
It has 7.4 million electric utility customers and 525,000 gas customers in the US. The Commercial segment's renewable energy includes utility scale wind and solar generation assets that total more than 2,400 MW across 12 states from more than 22 wind farms and 38 commercial solar farms. It also has more than 4,600 MW of power capacity outside of the US (in Latin America).
Sales and Marketing
The company has electric transmission lines of 32,300 miles; distribution lines of 263,900 miles; and natural gas mains of 7,200 miles, and natural gas service lines of 5,800 miles.
International Energy’s customers include retail distributors, electric utilities, independent power producers, marketers, and industrial and commercial companies.
In 2015 the company’s revenues decreased by 2% due to a decline in the performance of the International Energy and Regulated Utilities segments, which were negatively impacted by higher tax expense resulting from the decision to repatriate historical undistributed foreign earnings, unfavorable hydrology and exchange rates in Brazil, and an unplanned outage in Chile, and also due to lower average prices and volumes in Central America. These were partially offset by higher retail pricing primarily due to rate riders in most jurisdictions, including increased revenues related to energy efficiency programs, equity returns related to additional ownership interest in assets acquired from North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency, and higher base rates.
Duke Energy’s net income increased by 50% due to a drop in fuel expense (including purchased power and natural gas purchases for resale) primarily as the result of lower natural gas and coal prices, lower volumes of coal and oil used in electric generation and lower gas prices and volumes to full-service retail gas customers. Another factor was the decrease in property and other taxes primarily due to the termination of the collection of North Carolina gross receipts tax.
Operating cash flow continued its uptrend in 2015. The company’s operating cash flow increased by marginal 1% due to higher cash provided by receivables and a change in other current liabilities.
In 2016 Duke Energy initiated a process to divest the International Energy business segment, primarily due to a two-year drought in Brazil that led government officials to limit the use of hydro-electric plants, the backbone of Duke’s operations in that country.
In 2016 the company sold its Brazilian business to China Three Gorges Corporation for about $1.2 billion. It also sold its assets in Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Argentina to I Squared Capital for another $1.2 billion.
In 2015 Duke Energy broke ground on three solar sites in Florida and plans up to 500 MW of solar in the state by 2024. Duke Energy Renewables, its commercial business unit, built eight large solar projects in North Carolina. Additionally, its regulated utility in North Carolina committed $500 million for solar expansion in the state and built four utility-scale solar projects. Including its North Carolina investments, the commercial renewables business added 400 MW of wind and 200 MW of solar power in 2015.
That year the company also gained control of two California companies: REC Solar, which tailors solar solutions for businesses, and Phoenix Energy Technologies, which provides energy management for businesses.
Duke Energy, through indirect subsidiaries, completed the sale of the nonregulated Midwest generation business and Duke Energy Retail Sales LLC (collectively, the Disposal Group) to a subsidiary of Dynegy in 2015, for $2.8 billion. The transaction included ownership interests in 11 power plants and the company’s competitive retail business in Ohio. About $1.5 billion will be used to repurchase shares of the company’s common stock through an accelerated share repurchase program. The remainder will be used to pay down holding company debt and fund 2015 capital investments. This decision supports Duke Energy’s strategy to focus investments on businesses with more predictable and less volatile earnings. The proceeds from the sale were used, in part, to recapitalize Duke Energy through a stock repurchase program and deferrals of the issuance of long-term debt.
Since 2007 Duke Energy has invested more than $4 billion to grow its commercial wind and solar business, pursuing a strategy of developing green energy sources to shrink its carbon footprint to meet regulatory requirements. The company plans to invest an estimated $3 billion more over the next five years.
In 2014 it signed a long-term agreement to service Pattern Energy’s 283-MW Gulf Wind energy project in Armstrong, Texas. Duke Energy Renewable Services has also provided service and maintenance work at Pattern Energy’s Hatchet Ridge wind site in Burney, California.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company also focuses on expanding its natural gas platform. In 2016 the company bought Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion in cash. Based in Charlotte, Piedmont is a premier local distribution company that supplies natural gas to much of the Carolinas and parts of Tennessee. Acquiring Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas supports Duke Energy's strategic focus on natural gas infrastructure and comprehensive energy solutions for customers. The transaction tripled Duke Energy's natural gas customers to 1.5 million.
In 2015, Duke Energy Progress completed the purchase of North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency’s ownership interests in certain generating assets, fuel and spare parts inventory jointly owned with and operated by Duke Energy Progress for $1.25 billion. The purchase resulted in the acquisition of a total of approximately 700 MW of generating capacity at Brunswick Nuclear Plant, Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant, Mayo Steam Plant and Roxboro Steam Plant. This deal supports Duke Energy's core business and helps the power agency’s 32 cities reduce their high electric rates.
In 2014, Duke Energy Renewables acquired a 20-MW solar project in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, from Geenex and ET Solar Energy Corp. The solar project will inject an estimated $75 million into Halifax County between 2014 and 2029.