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Duke Energy CEO Sees Tough Summer For Consumers

Thursday, 29 May 2008 | 7:52 AM ET

It's going to be a tough summer for the American consumer, said Duke Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Rogers.

The spike in energy prices has already brought about profound changes in consumers' lives, Rogers told CNBC.

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He referred to the decision of Dow Chemical to raise the prices of its products by 20 percent.

He also has already seen an ominous sign among his company's energy customers in the last three months.

"Actually, we're seeing consumers delay in their payment of their electric bills, and their gas bills to heat their homes," he told CNBC. "You're starting to see behavior change. It causes us to disconnect service, and it creates a whole set of issues."

Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power companies in the U.S., with about 4 million customers in its service areas.

Rogers said he is not convinced that speculation alone is responsible for the record high oil prices.

"The fundamentals, the supply and demand, is what's really driving the price," he said. "Yes, speculation, viewing this as an asset, the investments by pension funds and all, yes, that is adding to the price, but I think it's more like 10 percent of the price, or 15 percent of the price."

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