Beyond the Meter - Episode 13

Beyond the Meter - Episode 13: ESG Investing & Innovative Financing Models Including Green Bonds

ESG Investing & Innovative Financing Models Including Green Bonds with Cari Boyce, Katherine Neebe, and Doug Esamann


Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (ESG's) refer to a set of standards that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. ESG's are increasing in importance and many companies are looking to ESGs to guide sustainability decisions and to prove their sustainability commitment to customers and stakeholders.

Join us for this episode as Cari Boyce, Katherine Neebe, and Doug Esamann join host John Failla to discuss the steps Duke Energy has taken and continues to take in the adoption and implementation of ESGs in moving toward its sustainability goals.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Introducing this episode’s guests and their experience with renewable energy [2:01]
  • Why Katherine chose to move from Walmart to join Duke Energy [5:30]
  • What is ESG investing and why is it of such importance these days? [10:01]
  • Duke’s 20-year history in sustainability planning and its current goals [18:20]
  • To what degree are ESG goals a business imperative for energy companies? [29:39]
  • The role energy storage and emerging tech will play in Duke’s ESG picture [42:16]
  • Collaboration is key in the energy transition [50:01]
  • The role of investment in moving forward in a greener, cleaner way [53:13]

A closer look at the role of ESG in corporate responsibility

ESG refers to how a company performs in these three key areas:

Environmental criteria: how does the company perform in terms of its ecological and environmental responsibility to the community?

Social criteria: how does the company manage relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates?

Governance: how does a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights operate?

Companies that navigate trends in the ESG space tend to outperform companies that ignore those trends. For that reason, ESG's should be a core consideration to a company’s strategy and fundamental to the way the company does business.

Sustainability has been a core value at Duke Energy for 20 years

Duke Energy, being a major electricity provider, sees itself as a major contributor to the well-being and fulfillment of the people who live in the communities it serves. As a result, the team at Duke has learned to listen to stakeholders, customers, and investors to know what’s important to everyone. The company also pays close attention to the environmental needs and impact of any projects it is involved with.

When it comes to ESG goals, Duke’s emphasis tends to be more on environmental aspects since it is a company that impacts the environment directly by virtue of what it supplies. But the social and governance aspects are just as important. The challenges are many; among them are the pressures to “green” their energy supply while doing it in ways that are affordable for customers. The Duke team is committed to continuing the search for the right balance and proper perspective to make it possible to do both.

It’s imperative for companies like Duke to focus on ESG goals

As the demand for ESG consideration increases from investors and customers alike, Duke Energy is proving themselves to be a leader in the field. Emerging energy technologies like solar and wind are options customers want to have as energy options, and Duke is providing them.

As proof of its commitment in these areas, to-date, Duke has retired more coal-based power plants than any other industry player and by 2030 Duke will no longer be producing energy via coal within the Carolinas. In Indiana (which is considered “coal country”) it will only be 10 to 15 years before coal-based energy production is no more for Duke. As a result of these commitments,  the carbon intensity Duke is serving to its customers is some of the lowest in the country.

Though many who are driving the renewable energy transition want Duke and other energy suppliers to make this transition more quickly, it’s an issue where goals have to be pursued at the proper pace. Duke has a two-fold commitment, to supply reliable energy for customers while at the same time moving the needle forward in the renewable transition.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Our Guests

Cari P. Boyce - SVP Enterprise Strategy & Planning, Duke Energy

Cari Boyce serves as senior vice president of enterprise strategy and planning for Duke Energy. She leads the company’s strategy development and strategic analysis efforts. Her team is also responsible for market fundamentals and load forecasting.

Before assuming her current position in October 2019, Boyce was Duke Energy’s Senior Vice President of Stakeholder Strategy and Sustainability and President of the Duke Energy Foundation. She led the company’s philanthropic activities to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The Duke Energy Foundation annually provides more than $30 million in charitable grants. In addition, she was responsible for developing the company’s stakeholder outreach strategy and overseeing sustainability initiatives and reporting.

Prior to that, Boyce was Duke Energy’s Vice President of Policy, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Strategy. She was responsible for the development, communication, and integration of the company’s position on environmental and energy policy issues, sustainability initiatives and reporting, as well as stakeholder outreach. From August 2016 through March 2017, she also served as the interim lead of the company’s federal government affairs office.

Boyce served as Vice President of Environmental and Energy Policy from 2012 through 2015. She also served as Vice President of Corporate Communications for Progress Energy from 2009 through 2012. Boyce joined Progress Energy in 2006, initially serving in the role of Director, External Communications.

Prior to her employment at Progress Energy, Boyce worked in state government in New York and North Carolina for 15 years. She served as the Director of Communications for the North Carolina governor’s office and was later promoted to the role of Director of External Affairs, where she was responsible for managing the federal and regional offices for the governor, as well as the governor’s communications and constituent relations offices. She also served as a senior adviser for policy and communications for the North Carolina attorney general, and as a legislative assistant in the New York State General Assembly.

Boyce currently serves on the board of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

A native of Ticonderoga, N.Y., Boyce earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Siena College. She also earned a Master of Education degree from North Carolina State University. Boyce has one sheltie, Archie.

Katherine Neebe, President, Duke Energy Foundation, VP National Engagement & Strategy, and Chief Sustainability Officer

Katherine Neebe serves as Vice President of National Engagement and Strategy and Chief Sustainability Officer for Duke Energy. She also serves as President of the Duke Energy Foundation. In these capacities, she leads Duke Energy’s stakeholder engagement efforts to develop solutions to meet customer needs for continued reliable and affordable energy – while simultaneously working to achieve the company’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work.

Katherine joined Duke Energy in August 2020 from Walmart, where she led environmental, social, and governance strategy and oversaw stakeholder engagement on behalf of Walmart’s sustainability team.

From 2007-2013, Katherine worked for the World Wildlife Fund where she managed one of the world’s largest corporate-NGO partnerships, a $97 million sustainability-driven initiative focused on water, agriculture, and climate that was active in over 45 countries.

Over the past 20 years, Katherine has worked with a wide range of corporate, government, and nonprofit organizations. Weaving together her intensive business experience and commitment to social and environmental responsibility, she brings in-depth insight to effective stakeholder engagement and an ability to ground sustainability into actionable terms.

Katherine is a First Movers fellow through the Aspen Institute, received her Master of Business Administration from The Darden School at the University of Virginia, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Colorado College.

Doug Esamann, EVP Energy Solutions, President, Midwest/Florida Regions, and President, Natural Gas Business, Duke Energy

As Executive Vice President, Energy Solutions, Doug Esamann is responsible for corporate strategy and planning, emerging technology, and the company’s regulated and commercial renewable energy operations. Additionally, he has responsibility for sales and services to commercial, industrial and wholesale customers; the development and marketing of products and solutions for all customer segments; and the company’s economic development efforts.

As President of the Midwest and Florida regions, he has responsibility for the profit/loss, strategic direction, and performance of the company’s regulated electric utilities in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Florida. Esamann also serves as President of Duke Energy’s natural gas business, where he oversees all of the company’s natural gas operations in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Previously, Esamann served as President of Duke Energy Indiana, the state’s largest electric utility, serving approximately 810,000 customers in 69 of the state’s 92 counties. He was responsible for the company’s regulatory, governmental relations, economic development, and community affairs work in Indiana. He served in that role from November 2010 until June 2015. He assumed added responsibility for the natural gas business in October 2019.

Prior to that, Esamann was Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Duke Energy, where he led the company’s strategy development and business planning efforts, including load forecasting and market fundamentals. Following the merger between Duke Energy and Cinergy in April 2006, Esamann served as Group Vice President of Strategy and Planning for Duke Energy’s regulated utilities, with responsibility for integrated resource planning, environmental compliance planning, transactional support, customer market analytics, load research, and renewable energy compliance.

With Cinergy, he served as Senior Vice President of Energy Portfolio Strategy and Management for Cinergy’s commercial business unit, with responsibility for fuel management, environmental risk management, generation dispatch, power purchases and sales, portfolio analytics, load forecasting, generation asset planning, demand-side management planning, and environmental compliance planning.

Esamann began his employment with Public Service Indiana (predecessor of PSI Energy) in 1979. In the course of his PSI/Cinergy career, he held a variety of leadership roles, including Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the commercial business unit from 1999 until 2001, and president of PSI Energy from 2001 until 2004.

Esamann has been active on a number of community and industry boards. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Energy Systems Network, a nonprofit industry initiative focused on clean technology development. He is a member of the board of directors for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). He also serves on the board of trustees for Discovery Place, a hands-on science and technology museum for visitors of all ages based in Charlotte, N.C.

A native of Plainfield, Ind., Esamann earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Indiana University. He and his wife, Kimberly, have two daughters, a son, and six grandchildren.

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