Charges of cozy relations between Duke Energy and Indiana regulators hit the company’s headquarters Monday as a top executive resigned over e-mails sent to a former utilities commissioner.
Duke said Jim Turner, president of its regulated electric and gas units, its largest businesses, was not forced out. CEO Jim Rogers said many of the messages were “very sophomoric and didn’t reflect the professionalism that’s really important.”
Dozens of e-mails obtained by the Indianapolis Star under an open-records request, published Nov. 28, showed up to eight to 10 messages a day between Turner and the former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, David Lott Hardy. The exchanges ranged from what kind of BMW Turner should buy to who Duke should hire, the newspaper reported.
The controversy offers a through-the-keyhole glimpse of friendships between utility executives and state regulators who decide what rates consumers will pay. Turner’s resignation interrupted the rise of a Duke executive on track to be a major player in the Charlotte business community. As of Monday, he is no longer in line to be the Charlotte Chamber chairman for 2012. “It’s all very unfortunate,” said Chamber president Bob Morgan.
A sobering and unfortunate series of conversations that should have never taken place.
There is no doubt that business leaders may maintain friendly relationships with those who regulate them, but have enough common sense to know how and when to have the conversations.
I suspect this kind of issue is apparent in many circles where top leaders interface with those who regulate and control their world.
Who will teach these leaders what to say and when to say it?
How will they gain this knowledge and perspective?
There is so much to be done in the world of executive education and organizational learning.
How is your company addressing and preventing issues such as this one?