Groundbreaking report reflects leaps in battery technology, is paired with Action Plan so cities and towns can act on pledges to help slow the climate crisis
A few years ago, outgoing Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers warned that distributed renewable energy was fast pushing his industry toward becoming a provider of backup electricity generation and transmission equipment – and that large, central power plants would become extinct.
Rogers was right. In 2017, solar power – generated where it’s needed – and the ability to store it for later use are now beating fossil fuels and nuclear power in the 21st century marketplace.
Recent leaps in battery technology, combined with falling solar power prices and energy-saving advances, mean North Carolina can replace all fossil fuels used for electricity by 2030, and half by 2025. All utility customers can benefit – and avoid having 40 billion of their dollars spent by Duke Energy to build unneeded power plants, power lines and a fracked gas pipeline for the Carolinas. And they’ll save billions more in avoided purchase of coal and natural gas.
That’s according to a comprehensive new report called NORTH CAROLINA CLEAN PATH 2025: Achieving an Economical Clean Energy Future. NC WARN commissioned the report by veteran energy engineer Bill Powers of San Diego after working with him over the past two years.
The NC CLEAN PATH 2025 approach is cleaner, more reliable, and far less costly than Duke Energy’s plans to greatly expand the use of climate-wrecking fracked natural gas, nuclear power and transmission systems. Engineer Powers details how the clean approach creates far more jobs statewide – and allows people at all economic levels to start saving money through solar and energy efficiency without financial burden.
NC WARN is matching the report with an Action Plan so local governments can work with residents to make real their recent pledges to help slow the accelerating climate crisis – by ramping up solar panels at homes, buildings, parking areas, and on vacant urban land, combined with battery storage.
Local governments, municipal utilities and cooperatives can directly implement CLEAN PATH programs. We’re also urging them and the public to press Duke Energy and state elected officials to join the effort. And we’re reaching out to scientists, civic leaders, news media and the public to foster an open, constructive discussion about moving quickly into the 21st Century on energy and climate.
NC CLEAN PATH 2025 is an opportunity for North Carolinians to provide national leadership in the urgent challenge to slow climate change. NC WARN is also calling on Duke Energy and smaller utilities to join this effort and benefit from it by becoming aligned with the public interest in this time when leading scientists are imploring society that only dramatic action can avert climate chaos.
In humanity’s favor is that solar power is now cheaper than average utility prices in many states including North Carolina. For commercial customers, solar – plus battery storage for daily use – is now far below the price of retail grid power and, according to government and industry data, cheaper than power from new natural gas-burning plants.
We believe this report is a first for the nation, and it shows how several utilities are quickly adopting local solar combined with onsite batteries. We’re urging other states to join the shift to local solar with storage – even as the Kochs and many utilities work vigorously to stifle the growth of renewables.
The year 2025 in the report’s title reflects the critical need to start taking steps toward clean, affordable energy now. And, as author Bill Powers emphasizes:
“There are no economic or technical barriers to its adoption by the large utilities, although the smaller public utilities – cooperatives and municipals – are adopting local solar and battery storage more quickly in the U.S. so far.”
The only barrier is Duke Energy’s longstanding control over state government and public debate.
NC CLEAN PATH 2025 is an economic engine that will create more jobs than the expansion plans proposed by the utilities, and it’s based on available technology and proven, successful programs. Among the new findings, North Carolina has twice as much local solar potential as needed to retire all fossil fuel plants, and local power lines can handle large flows of local solar at little additional cost.
Specifically, NC CLEAN PATH 2025 will:
- Reduce power generated by coal- and natural gas-fired plants 57 percent by 2025.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation 100 percent by 2030. All coal-fired plants will be closed and gas-fired plants will be used only for backup supply.
- Maintain the current growth rate, 1,000 megawatts per year, of large-scale solar in North Carolina, but build it on vacant urban and suburban land, and on brownfields.
- Add 2,000 megawatts of solar power each year at homes, businesses, schools, and other buildings – and back it up with cost-effective battery storage, capitalizing on rapid progress by Tesla and other companies.
- Create financing options for local solar power, battery storage, and efficiency upgrades that allow everyone to benefit without financial burden.
- Accelerate energy-saving programs to reduce electricity usage 20 percent by 2025.
- Expand demand response programs and energy efficiency upgrades to reduce peak summer cooling and peak winter heating loads 50 percent by 2025.
- Create 16,000 good jobs across the state in the first three years.
Technical review of Powers’ report was performed by utility industry veterans. The Duke University-trained engineer matches the clean path approach with electricity usage patterns, showing how to displace coal and natural gas quickly over the next few years.
With global temperatures at record high levels for four straight years, NC WARN calls on all civic-minded North Carolinians across the political spectrum to help implement NC CLEAN PATH 2025 using our Action Plan. We’ll soon announce more about this campaign.