- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The largest U.S. electric company says its annual shareholders meeting in May will be its first without a physical gathering, with all business conducted and questions answered only online.

Duke Energy Corp. said Friday the live video webcast on May 4 will make the meeting accessible to 1 million shareholders worldwide.

Dozens of companies including Hewlett-Packard and Intel have replaced in-person conclaves with virtual meetings. Advocates say they allow more shareholders to participate at lower cost. Critics say the format allows corporations to select the topics its executives want to address and scrub out tough questions.

Duke Energy’s shareholders meetings have long involved protests ranging from tea party groups to environmentalists. CEO Lynn Good faced tough questioning about a massive coal ash spill during the Charlotte utility’s 2014 meeting.

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