By Bruce Henderson
Duke Energy and other utilities in the Southeast are building power plants that aren’t needed, gouging consumers, a Durham advocacy group said Tuesday in a federal complaint.
NC WARN asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order an investigation of the billions of dollars the group says are being wasted.
WARN contends that utilities could buy power from each other instead of building new plants that often sit idle. Utilities, it says, are monopolies that thwart competition.
Duke responded that WARN, a critic of coal-fired power plants, “is now criticizing Duke Energy for building new, cleaner, natural gas-fired and solar power plants to replace the 35 coal-fired units that the company has closed since 2011.”
North Carolina’s Utilities Commission has repeatedly rejected similar arguments from WARN in the past, Duke said. The state’s Public Staff, which advocates for customers, has supported the company’s power plant construction and reserve margins, it added.
FERC has urged utilities to voluntarily form interstate power-moving agreements called regional transmission organizations. But regulators in southern states have never warmed to the idea of ceding authority to RTOs.