For three years, Duke Energy has insisted it must build the $2.4 billion, 800 megawatt Cliffside
coal-fired unit at Cliffside, NC due to growing population and electricity demand in its service area.
The various factors below are being treated in separate dockets by the NC Utilities Commission.
The Commission needs to connect the dots, and avoid decades of soaring power bills for Duke’s
- Duke is seeking to greatly expand its customer base. Late last month, Duke struck a deal
(not approved by the NC Commission) to sell SC utility Santee Cooper 1000 mw of
electricity – outside Duke’s service area. This is far more than the net capacity of 600 mw
Duke is building at Cliffside (800 mw minus 200 mw of old units to be retired). Duke wants
its current customers to take risks and pay higher bills so it can expand outside sales.
- Even before the Santee deal, a March, 2009 Commission ruling (Orangeburg docket)
against Duke’s efforts to sell electricity to cities outside its service area – over 900 mw was
being solicited in total – entirely eliminated the need for the new Cliffside unit.
- Duke Energy has steadily reduced its forecasted growth over the next 15 years. Appendix
D of Duke’s June 2009 rate increase request shows the amount of power the company sells
will actually fall slightly over the next six years. This alone nullifies the need for Cliffside.
- Duke’s long-range plans do not reflect the projected 1% annual energy savings the
company has pledged to achieve with a proposed revision of its controversial “Save-a-Watt”
program. Those savings alone would eliminate the need for Cliffside – unless Duke’s
support for efficiency remains a fig-leaf so it can keep building giant power plants.
- The company’s long-range projections use exaggerated reserve margins – excess capacity
on standby in case of a power plant outage. Reducing margins to the levels used by rival
Progress Energy would save more than the capacity being added at Cliffside.
- Southeastern utilities, including Duke, plan to greatly overbuild power plants so they can
increase sales to other regions, according to industry data from the Southeast Electric
Reliability Corporation. There simply is no need for Cliffside’s capacity.
- The company projects reducing power purchases from other utilities and merchant plants
by over 600 megawatts – the same amount of net capacity being added at Cliffside. On
August 11th, the Utilities Commission directed Duke to revisit the availability of electricity
across the region.
- A March study of Duke’s long-term data by a Duke University economist* shows the need
for Cliffside – plus new nuclear plants – can be eliminated by modest increases in energy
efficiency and cogeneration, along with renewable power at levels already required in North
Carolina. Previous studies by Duke Energy, the state and others show similar conclusions.
* See more on all these topics at www.ncwarn.org …
and in Dr. John Blackburn’s report: https://www.ncwarn.org/docs/reports/ncw_report_r8.pdf
rev. September 2009