DUK Annual Meeting was a very well run and calm affair.
This is the first annual meeting that I have ever attended for a major corporation. Besides being a stockholder, I decided to attend for it being close. I am now a resident of Charlotte, NC.
The participants were not as many as I expected - stockholders seemed to be in the minority. The meeting was assisted by a private company where the helpers had "host" tags on their lapels. Security was not as stringent as I expected and I was allowed entry without any special scrutiny that I could see.
I was not asked for any identification - only asked to fill out a simple form with basic information and how many shares I owned. Parking was nearby with the parking garage full of police vehicles and uniformed officers lounging around on chairs "protecting" the premises.
News Reports in the Charlotte Observer had it that this along with the Bank of America annual meeting to be held Saturday (May 5) was a test for protecting participants from demonstrators during the Democratic National Convention to be held this year in Charlotte. And yes, there were some demonstrators sitting on the sidewalk after I left the meeting. The demonstrators were fewer than the stockholders at the meeting and offered no obstruction nor did I feel threatened by them in any way. The news reports of being prepared for confrontation with demonstrators may have kept some stockholders away from the meeting.
The actual meeting followed a tight agenda and it ran on time start to finish. A Continental breakfast was available. Duke employees greeted us warmly with table displays showing the latest power plants being constructed and a sustainability report that emphasized alternative power projects. I made a contact with the Manager of Shareholder Communications - we exchanged cards.
As I entered the meeting hall, most of the seats were not being filled. I thought I'd be sitting alone even after the CEO Jim Rogers came over to me to introduce himself. That warm touch just floored me! Then another holder sat next me introducing himself - a retired employee of Duke.
After the usual meeting business the bulk of time was devoted to Q & A from shareholders. All of the questioners seemed to be minority holders except for one union representative. Most of the time was spent allowing these people to gripe about environmental and health issues where they wanted to point the blame on Duke for respiratory disease, cancer, water pollution and global warming.
I was very impressed with the way Jim Rogers responded to these "questions." He was highly personable in speaking to these very difficult people. His emphasis in response to the environmental problems was that it was his responsibility to "get the balance right."
Overall, I was left with the impression that Duke was in the business of providing the electric power that we need at the lowest possible cost within the constraint of existing environmental regulation. It would not be responsible to go beyond what is needed to provide power in what is now considered a safe and responsible manner. They are in compliance with all environmental regulations. If these protestors feel that environmental regulations need improvement, they need to lobby the EPA to increase them.
Disclosure: I am long DUK.