Housing and clean energy advocates concerned about economic, climate costs of natural gas future by a double-monopoly
The NC Housing Coalition, The Climate Times and NC WARN have jointly filed to become parties in a merger proposed by Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. The three nonprofits will advocate that the NC Utilities Commission fully investigate the costs and impacts on utility customers of the proposed $6 billion merger.
NC WARN and the Housing Coalition have teamed up in the past to challenge Duke Energy rate hikes. Since last fall, The Climate Times and NC WARN have worked together on several fronts to contest Duke’s fracking gas future.
Initial issues cited in last Thursday’s filing include:
. the inherent conflicts and costs associated with the merger of two competing monopolies;
. compliance with state laws governing self-dealing by a regulated monopoly
. the rising costs and financial risks associated with Duke Energy’s increasing reliance on natural gas generation and investments in the natural gas industry; and
. the likelihood of new regulation of the venting and leakage from natural gas infrastructure and the costs associated with those regulations.
Even though natural gas has become the largest greenhouse problem in the US due to methane leakage and venting throughout gas industry infrastructure, Duke Energy is planning to build up to 15 large gas-fired power plants in the Carolinas alone. And it is attempting to build a large pipeline into North Carolina from the shale gas fields to the North. Including the merger with PNG, Duke’s collective investment in natural gas could exceed $25 billion in coming years and create an enormous risk for customers held captive under the state-protected monopoly.
The filing deadline for expert testimony is June 10. An evidentiary hearing is scheduled for July 18 at 2pm and will open with an opportunity for public comments.