Since North Carolinians would pay 70% of the billion-dollar price tag and suffer from fracking expansion, regulators must openly evaluate this project now, not later
The NC Utilities Commission must allow for a full and transparent review of Duke’s latest proposal to keep building power plants that are not needed – and raising rates to do so. The proposed 750-megawatt fracking gas-burning plant near Anderson, SC would likely cost over $1 billion, so the NC regulators must scrutinize the cost and need now, not later in a rate case after the plant is built.
The NC Utilities Commission should not let Duke boost the highly-polluting fracking industry – especially by building power plants that aren’t needed.
In a motion filed with the NCUC yesterday, NC WARN attorney John Runkle says that “it appears Duke simply intends to construct the plant and then offer it as a fait accompli at the next rate case in North Carolina, without any preliminary scrutiny by the Commission … There has been no showing that the ratepayers in North Carolina need a unit like the Anderson plant.”
Instead, the NCUC must exercise its discretionary authority – which it uses widely in important matters – to review the project now. Duke’s service area is split only by a state border, and with 70 percent of Duke’s customers north of the line, North Carolina would pay that portion of the initial price tag as well as ongoing operational expenses.
Rapid changes are underway across the US electricity sector – particularly competition from solar and other distributed generation technologies, along with falling energy usage. The NC Commission must stop Duke’s persistent fiction that it must keep building power plants and raising rates while protected from competition by its increasingly controversial monopoly status.
We have called for the Commission to open a full case on the Anderson plant, or to allow evidence as part of evidentiary hearings in the ongoing docket that reviews Duke’s 15-year “integrated resource plans” for handling electricity supply and demand.
In the IRP case, NC WARN will file information showing there are a wide range of competitive alternatives to the Anderson plant, and that Duke’s over-building plans would maintain reserve capacity of up to 22 percent – 50 percent higher than industry norms.
As attorney Runkle told the Commission: The Anderson plant is simply not needed.
A key role of the NC Utilities Commission is to prevent overbuilding of power plants. Commissioners must not be hindered from exercising their authority by an invisible and meaningless state border.