Duke and ENN Group say ideas for potential development between the two include commercial solar projects, coal-based clean energy, biofuels, natural gas, smart grid, energy efficiency and carbon-capturing algae.
"Between our two companies we're going to find ways to generate electricity and minimize our carbon footprint," Jim Rogers, Duke's chairman, president and CEO, said in an interview.
The two made the announcement in New York while at the annual meeting of former President Bill Clinton's global initiative to address global problems.
China and the U.S. are No. 1 and 2 when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. The countries account for 40 percent of the world's total emissions. Both also heavily count on coal to drive their economies, with Duke using coal to generate about two-thirds of its electricity.
Rogers said if U.S. and Chinese companies can strike deals to work on climate change, then maybe it can lead to bigger solutions being reached by the governments of both countries. But he said the deals "mean nothing if they don't produce real projects, real solutions and are profitable."
The companies have signed agreements to share information and also are evaluating a partnership to pursue commercial development of utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects in the U.S.
Rogers said work will start immediately, with ENN executives visiting Duke facilities.
Duke signed a similar deal in August in Beijing with state-owned China Huaneng Group, China's largest electric utility.
Privately owned ENN, founded 20 years ago, has more than 100 subsidiaries that supply power in 80 cities across China. Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke has 4 million customers in five states: North and South Carolina, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.