Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Duke Energy Corp.’s top utility executive resigned, citing e-mail exchanges with an Indiana regulator that were published amid an investigation of improper ties between the company and the state agency.
James L. Turner, 51, president of U.S. franchised electric and gas, won’t be replaced and the company’s four utility heads will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers, Duke said today in a statement. Turner was responsible for Duke’s regulated businesses, the largest unit of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company.
E-mails obtained under an open records request showed Turner and David Lott Hardy, then the chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, discussing personnel matters and personal topics and “sometimes trading messages eight or 10 times day,” according to a Nov. 28 article in the Indianapolis Star newspaper.
“I have a duty to exercise the highest level of professionalism,” Turner said in today’s statement. “In certain e-mails to a former commissioner in Indiana, I fell short of this standard.”
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels fired Hardy in October because he failed to do anything about a commission staffer who was allowed to preside over regulatory matters with Duke as he was discussing a job with the company. Duke fired the man and the head of its Indiana utility in November.
Duke hasn’t challenged the content of the e-mails as reported by the newspaper, Tom Williams, a company spokesman, said today in an interview. Turner said his departure will enable the company and its employees to “move on from this distraction.”
Indiana regulators plan to audit all cases involving a $2.98 billion coal-gasification power plant Duke is building in Indiana, as part of an investigation into improper ties between the company and the state agency, Duke said Oct. 14. Duke announced its own investigation Oct. 12.
Turner served under Rogers as chief financial officer and as president of Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corp. before Duke’s 2006 acquisition of the company. He was Indiana’s official advocate for utility customers from 1991 to 1993, according to a biography on Duke’s website.
Duke fell 11 cents to $17.68 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have risen 2.7 percent this year.
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