Duke Energy's approval and cooperation was considered to be essential in advancing the highly anticipated Cincinnati streetcar project, and Wednesday the company announced it isn't willing to cooperate.
In a letter to Mayor Mark Mallory dated Feb. 8, Ohio and Kentucky Duke Energy President Julie Janson stated that Duke changed its mind after a year and a half of negotiations and that it wouldn't cooperate with the city's requests that Duke move utility lines downtown to make way for the streetcar's tracks. According to Janson's letter, the lines must be moved a minimum of eight feet from the edge of the streetcar before any progress can be made in the plan's implementation. Duke estimates that the relocation and replacement of the infrastructure would cost somewhere around $18.7 million, but City Manager Milton Dohoney said that estimate hadn't been verified by anyone else. —-
According to Janson's letter, "the company continues to support the city's effort to construct a streetcar," but Duke admits it won't even consider moving its lines until the city pledges to cover every penny of the $18.7 million investment.
Duke's opposition comes at an interesting time: The city of Cincinnati recently decided to send out requests for proposals (RFPs) to new energy suppliers in hopes of obtaining lower rates and greener emissions in Cincinnati. Read more about that here.
If the city decides to choose another provider and move forward with its energy aggregation plan, that could mean Duke Energy could lose a good chunk of its customer base — a slice of its 685,000 electric customers and 400,000 gas customers in Ohio alone.
As of December 31, 2010, Duke Energy's total assets were $59 billion.