News Release
November 11, 2003


CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Five Duke Energy employees were honored today with the company’s Pinnacle Award – the company’s highest award for outstanding contribution to Duke Energy’s business success.

Honored were:

  • Gary R. Burtch, area director, Fort Nelson field services, Duke Energy Gas Transmission, Fort Nelson, British Columbia
  • R. Mark Fiedorek, vice president, asset optimization and marketer services, Duke Energy Gas Transmission, Houston,  
  • Thomas Silinski, information technology director, enterprise work force and business unit applications, Duke Energy Business Services, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Catherine B. Stancombe, director, HR technology, Duke Energy corporate human resources, Charlotte, N.C.
  • Michael S. Tuckman, executive vice president, nuclear generation, Duke Power, Charlotte, N.C.

Awarded annually, the Pinnacle Award recognizes Duke Energy employees for outstanding contributions to business success – focusing on business results above and beyond expectations in the areas of customer service, innovation, business generation, financial performance, operational excellence and enhanced corporate capability or reputation.

Gary Burtch has helped the Fort Nelson natural gas processing facility achieve record performance and become a significant contributor to DEGT’s earnings.

In the rugged northeastern corner of British Columbia, the Fort Nelson gas processing facility has the capacity to produce about 850 million cubic feet of raw gas every day. After two short years under his leadership, the plant is processing natural gas more efficiently than it has in more than 10 years.

In 2002, Fort Nelson recorded more than half a million man hours of continuous operations without a lost time accident – a significant achievement for a 24-hour-a-day, high-production hazardous gas facility with a staff of 130.

That same year, Burtch and his team commissioned a redesign of the facility to allow it to process more gas. The customer-driven project was completed ahead of schedule, allowing customers to flow their gas to market early. The facility continues to meet and exceed customer-negotiated reliability targets.

Mark Fiedorek knows how to grow earnings in Duke Energy Gas Transmission’s pipeline and storage operations.

He helped Market Hub Partners (MHP), Duke Energy’s salt cavern natural gas storage business, more than double its earnings in two years. Because salt caverns can be easily filled and emptied, they are an ideal storage solution for quickly delivering natural gas to natural gas-fired peaking power plants. 

Fiedorek has also led the development of a profitable new service. Generally, a pipeline customer will take natural gas from the pipeline at different rates throughout the day – more natural gas in the morning and evening, less natural gas at night.  These “swings” in demand are typically available to customers most days. But on cold days, Duke Energy has required that its customers take their natural gas at an even rate throughout the day.

Understanding the strain this put on one customer, New Jersey Natural Gas, Mark led the design of a new service that allowed them to reliably take gas throughout the day – as needed. Duke Energy’s Texas Eastern Pipe Line built special facilities to meet this need. And New Jersey Natural Gas signed a 20-year service agreement.  It has become a model service for other customers on the system.

In 2002, the intranet portal team completed the Employee Center, introduced the Manager Center and transferred Westcoast Energy’s intranets over to the portal.  With the completion of these projects, the portal continued to achieve the vision first established for it in 2000:   a single desktop view that allows employees to access everyday news and applications and perform other critical cost-saving business transactions.

Two employees have been largely responsible for championing the portal and leading its development:   Tom Silinski and Catherine Stancombe.

The portal has become an integral part of how many Duke Energy employees do their jobs, learn about the company and conduct business with their employer. It contains company and industry news and policies and procedures. It provides employees with access to applications such as online procurement and e-mail.

Unlike a traditional intranet, the portal allows employees to customize their view of the site to include content that is relevant to their specific needs.

And because the portal is accessible through the Internet, all of these services are available to employees virtually anywhere, any time of day.

Duke Energy has enjoyed cost savings as a result of the portal, including lower costs for HR transactions, reduced printing costs and a reduction in computer dial-up access charges. Annual savings are about $4 million.

Under Mike Tuckman’s leadership, Duke Power’s nuclear generation department enjoyed its greatest year in the company’s history, setting company records for reliability, power generation, safety and cost-efficiency.

In 2002, nuclear generation generated 58.4 million megawatt-hours of electricity, or 57 percent of the electricity used by Duke Power’s more than two million customers.  Its nuclear fuel costs continued to be among the lowest in the nation. Production costs were at a company-record low of $13.53 per megawatt-hour. The department’s three nuclear stations had a combined capacity factor of 95.2, also a company record. (Capacity factor measures how much electricity is produced, compared with the amount of electricity a unit is capable of producing within a given period of time.)

Refueling outages were in the 20- to 35-day range. And all seven units were on line for a company record of 87 consecutive days during the peak summer usage period. 

Duke Energy is a diversified multinational energy company with an integrated network of energy assets and expertise. The company manages a dynamic portfolio of natural gas and electric supply, delivery and trading businesses – meeting the energy needs of customers throughout North America and in key markets around the world. Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is a Fortune 500 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available on the Internet at:

Contact: Randy Wheeless
Phone: 704/382-8379
24-Hour Phone: 704/382-8333