Duke Energy to continue level, focus of philanthropy

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — The level of corporate philanthropy at Duke Energy, which merged with Progress Energy effective July 2, will not shrink from the combined support the two companies have been providing in the communities they serve, and its philanthropy will continue to focus on the social needs the two companies have been addressing, the head of the Duke Energy Foundation says.

“The overall focus will continue to be building strong communities,” says Richard “Stick” Williams, president of the Duke Energy Foundation.

In North Carolina, annual philanthropic giving in 2011 totaled $8.5 million at Duke Energy and $4.7 million at Progress Energy, he says, with Duke Energy giving a total of $33 million a year throughout its entire service area, and Progress Energy giving a total of nearly $9 million throughout its entire service area.

In documents they filed with the N.C. Utilities Commission, he says, they agreed to maintain their combined giving over the next four years at $16 million to $17 million, or a total of $65 million to $66 million.

In addition to philanthropic dollars, both companies encouraged their employees to volunteer and donate to charity, and they provided corporate support to sponsor charitable events.

In 2011, Duke Energy employees and retirees contributed over 200,000 volunteer hours worth $4.4 million. While Progress Energy employees and retirees also were actively engaged in community initiatives, the company did not track total volunteer hours or the dollar value of those hours.

As part their philanthropic giving, both companies offer programs that match charitable contributions by employees.

For each employee, for example, Duke agrees to match up to $5,000 a year in giving, dollar-for-dollar for giving to education, and 50 cents on the dollars for giving to other causes.

The corporate match totals about $1.2 million a year, a total that is included in the company’s overall philanthropic giving.

Progress Energy has given about $1.1 million a year in matching support during its annual employee giving campaign, Williams says.

While the two corporate foundations will not merge until January 1, Williams says, the goal is for each foundation to continue focusing on the causes it has supported in the past.

All those causes have focused on “community vitality,” he says, including support for nonprofits that work in the areas of human services, economic development, the environment, prekindergarten-through-high-school education, and higher education.

“That will not change,” Williams says.

And in the region that Progress Energy served, he says, his goal over the next several years is to “continue to focus on things Progress has considered to be important.”

Alisa McDonald, vice president of the Duke Energy Foundation, says both companies provided significant financial support to similar organizations in the Triangle area.

Duke Energy, for example, awarded $1.25 million over five years to the Advanced Transportation Energy Center at N.C. State University, $1.2 million to the College of Engineering at N.C. State, $1 million to the Hunt Library at  N.C. State and $1 million to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

And Progress Energy has contributed $1 million grant over five years to the Museum of Natural Sciences, $1.25 million over five years to the Advance Transportation Energy Center and $1.2 million over five years to the College of Engineering at N.C. State.

“It is part of the DNA of Duke Energy,” Williams says, “to be very engaged in the communities and be very supportive of the communities we serve,” Williams says.

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