Asheville, North Carolina – The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) is excited that Duke Energy is aspiring to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. Duke is the second southeastern utility to pledge a 2050 carbon target following Southern Company. Duke Energy deserves credit for being the Southeast’s leader on utility energy efficiency programs and is currently host to the largest concentration of solar power development in the region.
Duke Energy serves six states, with roughly three quarters of its emissions coming from the Southeast. Between 2018-2025, Duke Energy is adding roughly 8 gigawatts (GW) of gas units (5 CC and 3 of CT) and 5 GW of solar power in Florida and the Carolinas. About 30% of the electric generation from new power plants will be solar.
Due to Duke Energy’s gas-heavy near-term plans, their current forecast does not include a new wave of emissions reductions beyond 2020. Gas generation accounts for about 40% of all carbon (CO2) emissions in Duke Energy’s operations in the Southeast, and their plan to keep adding more means that their current plans don’t seem likely to reduce emissions much after 2020. We look forward to learning more on how Duke will meet the near term 2030 target.
As we noted in our recent report, Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast, “High costs and the need to further develop technologies are often falsely cited as the primary barriers to decarbonization.” We hope that as Duke Energy works with stakeholders to deliver on its new vision, and that the utility will emphasize overcoming structural barriers within current utility business practices, rather than deferring action until new research delivers a miracle.
The best place to start is for Duke Energy to respond to the recent order from the North Carolina Utilities Commission to update its resource planning methods and goals, taking into consideration Governor Roy Cooper’s decarbonization goals expressed in Executive Order 80.
SACE also believes that there is an important role for utilities to play in decarbonizing the transportation sector.
“We welcome Duke Energy’s updated carbon reduction targets,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, “Of course the ‘devil is in the details’ and we are eager to see how Duke will accelerate their carbon reductions to meet these new targets. The science of climate change demands that we move faster in meeting a zero carbon future, we welcome Duke rising to the challenge.”
About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.