The Case for Cliffside and New Nukes is Dead
The news media must connect the dots on why Duke and Progress are risking
up to 40 billion public dollars for power plants that are not needed
Statement from Executive Director Jim Warren:
DURHAM, NC – For three years Progress Energy and Duke Energy have insisted that giant nuclear and coal-fired power plants must be built to handle growth in electricity demand. The NC Utilities Commission has failed to connect the dots between glaring discrepancies in those arguments, even though all the information below is from Commission proceedings.
Gambling 35 to 40 billion public dollars on new plants could cause a doubling or tripling of power bills, further undermine North Carolina’s economy, and ruin our chances to help slow climate change. NC WARN urges news departments and editorial boards, as vital watchdogs in the public interest, to investigate the following issues:
New documents show long-term growth projections have been slashed – far beyond reductions due to the recession. After claiming electricity demand is rising at 2% annually, both companies now project half that growth rate through 2027 – a level easily handled by energy efficiency.1
Duke is soliciting at least nine cities and other large customers outside its service area. If approved, this would add outside customers whose electricity usage far exceeds the 800 MW capacity Duke says it must build at the Cliffside coal-fired plant near Charlotte.2
Industry data proves new plants are not needed. Data from industry consortium SERC Reliability Corporation shows that Southeastern utilities plan to grossly overbuild generation capacity – with customers paying up front – so they can increase sales of power outside the region.3
Data from Duke’s own experts prove new plants are not needed. Duke’s expert witness admitted under cross examination that 10% energy efficiency is a reasonable 10-year goal.4 A separate $170,000 study for Duke says 19%.5 The legislature’s 2007 study says 14%. Former Duke University economics department chair John Blackburn says at least 10%. The Commission’s Public Staff says other utilities and municipalities average 11%. Meanwhile, both Progress and Duke promote minimal energy efficiency as PR tools to paint themselves green.
Progress & Duke encourage wasting of energy. In March the Commission agreed with NC WARN that billing programs by Duke and Progress encourage customers to waste large amounts of electricity, but it allowed 160,000 customers to remain in those programs.6
Duke’s reserve margin is being kept artificially high in order to justify new plants. Reducing that margin to the level used by Progress Energy would negate the need for Cliffside.7
We urge editorial boards to call for cancellation of Cliffside and enormously expensive and risky new nuclear plants, and to support the new NC SAVE$ plan for statewide energy efficiency. That plan will be introduced as a bill in the next legislative session. This path can negate the high risk of new plants, protect power bills, create thousands of jobs, and begin providing additional greenhouse gas reductions via retirement of existing coal-fired power plants.
1. 2008 Integrated Resource Plans filed with the NC Utilities Commission
2. Orangeburg hearing transcript Vol 3, cross exam of Duke witness Svrcek, http://ncuc.commerce.state.nc.us/cgi-bin/webview/senddoc.pgm?dispfmt=&itype=Q&authorization=&parm2=4AAAAA71380B&parm3=000128955
4. Save-a-Watt Hearing Transcript 7/29/08, cross exam of Duke witness Cicchetti, http://ncuc.commerce.state.nc.us/cgi-bin/webview/senddoc.pgm?dispfmt=&itype=Q&authorization=&parm2=QAAAAA81280B&parm3=000126792
5. Forefront Economics, Inc August 2007 http://ncuc.commerce.state.nc.us/cgi-bin/webview/senddoc.pgm?dispfmt=&itype=Q&authorization=&parm2=FAAAAA89080B&parm3=000126792