Duke Energy is one of the most profitable and successful coal companies in the world.
As of last year, the company generated more than $2.4 billion in revenue, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Duke’s profits were so good that the company was able to make its CEO the new CEO of the world’s second largest utility.
As a result, the utility was awarded a contract to build and operate a coal plant in the central Appalachian region.
The company is also planning to build another coal plant near Asheville, North Carolina, which would be a $300 million project.
However, the latest moves by Duke have put the utility on the defensive.
Last week, Duke announced that it had signed a $1.8 billion contract with the U.S. Department of Energy to purchase an estimated 1.3 million acres of land in Kentucky, a decision that drew criticism from environmental groups, who said it was a giveaway to Duke and the company’s CEO, Andrew Puzder.
The Kentucky purchase, according a Duke press release, “is part of a broader effort by the state to accelerate the conversion of its existing coal-fired electricity generation capacity to natural gas by 2030.”
In a statement to CNBC, Duke spokesperson J.J. Koehn said, “As we have made clear, the Kentucky purchase will not impact the utility’s current plans to invest $1 billion in renewable energy technology, such as solar and wind.
Duke plans to build more than 1,000 MW of solar energy capacity and more than 500 MW of wind capacity at the site.”
Puzdar, the president of the union that represents coal miners, has repeatedly criticized Duke’s efforts to purchase coal from the region.
Last month, Puzdeer said on CNBC that he believed the Duke coal purchase would lead to a “climate crisis.”
In an op-ed published by The Atlantic, Puetzdeer wrote, “We must do more than simply save coal, and we need to do so to save our future.
The coal-free generation plant will help us do just that, and help us save the planet.”
The Appalachian Regional Commission, which oversees the coal industry, has defended the purchase, saying that it will provide “a strong, reliable source of electricity for decades.”
Duke’s new CEO, Duke Energy CEO Andrew Pizder, has also been vocal in his criticism of the climate crisis.
In an interview with The Atlantic published earlier this year, Pizdaer said, “[Climate change] is not a hoax.
It’s a real problem, it’s very serious.”
Pizdeer, however, added that coal “is not a sustainable source of energy” because of the “unintended consequences that it’s going to have on the environment.”
Duke is also facing increased scrutiny over its relationship with Puzders father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In 2012, the U,S.
Treasury Department ordered Puzdaers company, Energy Transfer Partners, to pay $2 billion in penalties for allegedly violating federal environmental regulations and taking advantage of federal contracts.
Puzds father, however has continued to lobby for the coal company.
Last November, he spoke at a public meeting in Washington, D.C., to support the coal-heavy energy market.
“I don’t believe we should be wasting energy,” he said.
“We can’t save the world if we don’t invest in the clean energy industry.”
In addition to the coal purchases, Duke recently bought the former Duke Energy headquarters for $2 million.
The announcement of the purchase is the latest in a series of investments by Duke that have come under fire from environmental organizations and labor unions.
The purchase of the former coal-burning plant was first reported by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
Duke Energy’s recent investments in coal mining and the coal mining industry are not the first time that the coal giant has been in the news for its controversial ties to the fossil fuel industry.
In 2015, the Duke Energy Board of Governors ordered the company to divest itself of $15.3 billion in investments in the fossil fuels sector, including the coal, oil and gas industry.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Duke also agreed to sell its coal holdings to Canadian Natural Resources Limited, which will use the money to help offset the loss of revenue from coal mines.
In 2016, the Energy Department revoked Duke Energy leases in Tennessee, Alabama, West Virginia and North Carolina.
The move was part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to roll back regulations put in place to protect the environment and communities.
The Trump administration also has made the rounds to criticize coal companies, including Duke.
The president’s administration has repeatedly threatened to cut off payments to companies that break environmental laws.
For example, in April, the Department of Justice threatened to revoke Duke Energy $2,200 per hour of coal leases.