The largest Duke Energy payment was a $1bn payment to energy vampires to help them move from an aging grid to a new one, according to the company.
Duke Energy paid an energy vampire $9.7bn last year, and it paid a similar amount in 2016 to a different energy vampire, according a Duke Energy spokesman.
It also paid $2.5 billion to the energy vampires who are still using the old grid, the spokesman said.
The payment to the old energy vampires comes as Duke Energy has faced mounting criticism about the cost of its aging power grid, which is facing challenges from a variety of factors including low demand and low electricity prices.
A number of utilities, including Duke, have recently said that they may abandon the old system and instead build more efficient power plants.
Dorothy Johnson, president and CEO of the energy watchdog group Common Cause, said the payments were “extremely troubling.”
“These payments are not in keeping with the public interest in supporting energy efficiency, and they will not serve as a sustainable way to ensure the continued viability of our aging energy infrastructure,” Johnson said.
A company spokesperson told The Associated Press that the payments are “a result of our continued commitment to reducing our energy consumption.”
The payments are the latest in a series of moves by Duke Energy that have been criticized by environmentalists and consumer advocates.
In March, Duke Energy agreed to pay $8.8 billion to settle allegations that it was manipulating gas prices to boost the utility’s profit.
In November, Duke agreed to settle accusations that it illegally pushed gas prices.