Utility responds to concerns, yet still leans too much on polluting gas
COLUMBIA, S.C, — After pressure from the public and an order from state regulators, Duke Energy has proposed long-term plans that retire polluting coal earlier and add more renewable energy, but at the same time would add even more fracked gas plants than previously planned.
The two Duke Energy utilities that operate in the Carolinas—Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress—filed revised integrated resource plans, or IRPs, with the Public Service Commission of South Carolina on Friday evening*. An IRP is essentially a road map of how an electric utility plans to meet customer demand in the future.
Duke’s original 2020 resource plans relied too heavily on costly and polluting fossil fuels. After state regulators sent the plans back to Duke with instructions to correct faulty assumptions and conduct more analysis, Duke filed its revised plans on Friday.
Maggie Shober, Utility Reform Director for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said, “Duke’s modified resource plans for its two utilities in the Carolinas are a step in the right direction, with more solar than was proposed in its original plan nearly a year ago. However, Duke is continuing to plan for nearly 10 GW of new gas plants, which will lead to higher customer bills, and will still miss the target of 100% clean electricity by 2035.”
Highlights and lowlights of the revised plans include:
- Duke’s proposal would retire its remaining coal plants by the end of this decade.
- Duke’s “preferred portfolio” includes 3,000 more megawatts of solar energy and 600 more megawatts of wind energy compared to the original plans.
- Carbon dioxide emissions would drop 66% by 2030 below 2005 levels, but plateau to 66% in 2035.
- Compared to the original proposal, Duke’s preferred plan does increase in energy-efficiency savings, one of the cheapest and most effective ways to cut energy use.
- Duke proposes adding 9,600 megawatts of gas plants, up from its previous proposal of 7,350 megawatts.
Parties to the commission proceedings have 60 days to file written comments on the revised IRPs, and the Public Service Commission will ultimately need to approve the plans.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Coastal Conservation League, Upstate Forever, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club are represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center in comments on the Modified IRP.
*Duke Energy Carolina and Duke Energy Progress IRP links:
Since 1985, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible and equitable energy choices to ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. With a long track record, SELC takes on the toughest environmental challenges in court, in government, and in our communities to protect our region’s air, water, climate, wildlife, lands, and people. Nonprofit and nonpartisan, the organization has a staff of 170, including 90 attorneys, and is headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., with offices in Asheville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Chapel Hill, Charleston, Nashville, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.