Duke Energy Corp. shareholders Thursday elected all nominees for directors, despite opposition to some of them by North Carolina Retirement Systems, CalPERS, CalSTRS, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Florida State Board of Administration, New York City Retirement Systems and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
Carlos A. Saladrigas, an independent director since 2001 whose election was opposed by the seven pension funds, was re-elected by a vote of 85% in favor, the lowest vote total among the Duke nominees.
The $289.1 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento; C$201.5 billion (US$182.6 billion) CPPIB, Toronto; $183.3 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento; $177.9 billion FSBA, Tallahassee; New York City Retirement Systems, whose combined assets total $150 billion; C$140.8 billion OTPP, Toronto; and $86.1 billion North Carolina fund, Raleigh, all voted against the election of Mr. Saladrigas.
Other nominees were elected with votes ranging from 91.03% to 97.98%.
The pension funds opposed some of the directors, accusing them of failing risk oversight, including a February coal-ash spill.
The North Carolina fund vote against Mr. Saladrigas, the only director or proposal it opposed.
The coal-ash spill “affected not only the lives of our state citizens who are downstream, but also the performance of the retirement systems' investment in Duke,” valued at more than $30 million in stock, Blake Thomas, assistant general counsel of the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer, wrote in an April 30 letter to Philip Sharp, chair of the Duke Energy board's regulatory, policy and operations committee, which oversees health, safety and environmental compliance at the company.
“Mr. Saladrigas is the only member of the (committee) who is up for re-election and who had more than a few weeks of services on” it, the letter said.
OTPP in a statement said that “due to director Saladrigas' lack of relevant experience in coal-fired power generation and environmental management, we believe the committee would benefit from a director with more relevant experience, particularly when considering the environmental risk oversight and regulatory challenges facing the company going forward.”
In addition, CalPERS, CalSTRS FSBA and the New York City pension funds voted against the election of G. Alex Bernhardt Sr. and James B. Hyler Jr., also members of the board's regulatory, policy and operations committee.
CalPERS, CalSTRS and the New York City pension funds voted against the election of James T. Rhodes, also a member of the committee.
FSBA voted against the election of James H. Hance Jr.
In addition, shareholders approved by a 59.22% vote in favor a proposal permitting any group of shareholders with an aggregate 15% of shares to call a special shareholder meeting.
But shareholders defeated by a vote of 57.5% against a proposal calling for Duke Energy to disclose political contribution policies and spending.
CalPERS, CalSTRS, CPPIB, FSBA and OTPP voted in support of both shareholder proposals.
The company opposed both shareholder proposals.
Dave Scanzoni, Duke Energy spokesman, referring to the special meeting proposal, said, “The board will review the proposal and consider next steps.”
The voting results were announced in a webcast of Duke Energy's annual meeting.
In response to the opposition to Mr. Saladrigas, Mr. Scanzoni, said the board would take no action. “He was overwhelming re-elected. The vote speaks for itself.” And, referring to the vote in favor of the political spending proposal, Mr. Scanzoni said, “The board will not take action on it,” because it was defeated.
The New York City pension funds are the Employees' Retirement System, Teachers' Retirement System, Police Pension Fund, Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.