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Electricity usage will take ‘until 2022 to get back to 2019 levels’: Duke Energy CEO

In this article:
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Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to disccuss the pandemic's long-term impact on the energy industry.

Video transcript

ANDY SERWER: Lynn, talk about the past 12 months and COVID, and how that impacted the business, and then also other constituents, which is to say employees. And where do you think things are right now?

LYNN GOOD: Sure. Andy, it was a moment, I guess about a year ago, in March, where we were trying to decide, how do we work in an environment called a pandemic? And for Duke, if you think about our employees and power plants, our line workers that are so important for storm restoration and maintaining reliable power, about 50%, 40% to 50% of our workforce has been in the workplace, in the field absolutely every day. And maintaining safety, temperature checking, masking, social distancing, changing our processes so people aren't gathering, changing the way we do hurricane restoration-- because we can't house and feed people the same way-- all of that has been a keen focus, because keeping our employees safe is job one, job one of Duke Energy.

The other part of the employee base we enabled to work remotely, much like you're doing, putting technology and other resources in place so our employees could work safely that way. And then in terms of the business, we suffered a decline in electric usage, really driven by our industrial customers as they were figuring out, how are we going to deal with the pandemic? And then our commercial customers-- colleges and universities, retail, restaurants-- you know, think about all the challenges small businesses have had. So we had a decline in electric load as a result of that.

ANDY SERWER: What sort of a decline was it? Was it 10%? 30%? How do you characterize--

LYNN GOOD: No. You know, by class it could have been 10% to 15% early on in the industrial segment. For the whole year, though, Andy, it was about 3%, all of 2020.

ANDY SERWER: Did you see an increase in consumer because people were at home doing--

LYNN GOOD: We saw an increase in residential. Exactly the case. And so as we sit here today, we are optimistic about the rebound. But we still believe it's going to take us until 2022 to get back to 2019 levels in terms of electric sales.

We were also really active with customers, because this wasn't just a pandemic. It was an economic issue. So we suspended disconnects. We waived late payment fees. We did all kinds of things to try to support customers during this time. And that has been an important part of our work through this entire period, and we're pleased to see a number of our small businesses reopening and customers getting back on their feet. So it was not only a health issue. It was an economic issue.

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