A ruling is expected any day on a regulatory hearing that could determine if North Carolina will finally join growing global efforts to avert runaway climate chaos or allow Duke Energy to continue driving humanity toward the cliff. The overall case could also determine if Duke can continue raising power rates repeatedly while stifling the growth of renewable energy paired with battery storage and the thousands of jobs the clean path would bring all across this state.
The NC Utilities Commission’s pattern over many years has been to rubber-stamp Duke Energy’s 15-year Integrated Resource Plan, an always-exaggerated projection of electricity demand and how Duke plans to meet it by building dirty power plants while minimizing the use of renewable energy. However, in last year’s rate case some commissioners stood up against the Duke rubber stamp.
And since November, the commission has delayed a ruling on NC WARN’s motion for a judicial-type hearing over the long-range plan – which is required in most states – where our attorneys and other parties can put experts on the stand and cross-examine Duke officials under oath. Duke continues to argue that the Commission should not even consider our Clean Path 2025 strategy that, by 2030, would replace all coal- and gas-fired generation with local solar-with-storage and energy-saving programs.
Meanwhile, criticism mounts against Duke’s plan that calls for only 8% renewables by 2033 (as many other US utilities are already above 30%), with only 230 megawatts (MW) of storage and 9,600 MW of new generation from climate-wrecking fracked gas:
- Attorney General Josh Stein calls for more solar-with-storage and points out that raw methane emissions from natural gas are contributing to climate disasters “which have real costs that are ultimately borne by ratepayers.”
- Two sets of state legislators — from Buncombe County and from Duke’s hometown of Charlotte — have criticized Duke’s plan and are calling for hearings.
- 40 local government officials, a former prominent EPA climate official and 1,700 other North Carolinians have urged the Commission to reject Duke’s climate-wrecking plan.
- In criticizing Duke’s plan, Southern Environmental Law Center, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy call for the evidentiary hearing, note that solar-with-storage is now beating natural gas on economics in some states and point out that Duke plans to use only a token amount of storage.
- The NC Sustainable Energy Association is criticizing Duke’s plan and calling for more renewables and energy storage.
For the climate and for the pocketbooks of ratepayers, North Carolina can and simply must do better than the measly 8 percent renewables Duke Energy considers ambitious.
Now in its 31st year, NC WARN is building people power in the climate and energy justice movement to persuade or require Charlotte-based Duke Energy – one of the world’s largest carbon polluters – to make a quick transition to renewable, affordable power generation and energy efficiency in order to avert climate tipping points and ongoing rate hikes. Find them online at www.NCWarn.org.
Source: Jim Warren, NC Warn